Trump’s Possible Supreme Court Nominees: The Faith Factor

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Raymond Kethledge

Raymond Kethledge, a judge for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, would be the sole evangelical Christian on the Supreme Court. Kethledge, 51, also would break the Ivy League mold (as would Barrett). Raised in Michigan, he earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Michigan. He currently lives in the Great Lakes State and has said he writes his opinions in a rustic barn office overlooking Lake Huron with no internet, no cell phone reception and a wood stove for heat.

Among his decisions is Acosta v. Cathedral Buffet, Inc., which concerned a buffet restaurant owned and operated by Grace Cathedral Church, whose president is Ohio televangelist Ernest Angley. Angley was accustomed to recruiting volunteers from the pulpit to work at the buffet, a for-profit enterprise — a practice the Labor Department said violated minimum wage requirements.

The appeals court found that the volunteers weren’t underpaid because they didn’t expect to be: rather, they were happy to do God’s work. “The Department seeks to regulate spiritual conduct qua spiritual conduct, and to impose significant liability as a result,” Kethledge wrote in his concurrence with the decision. He cautioned that no government bureaucrat can make spiritual judgments about what motivated the churchgoers to do the work.

“The coercion that matters is not anything that Rev. Angley said to his congregation on a Sunday morning,” Kethledge wrote. “What matters, rather, is the Department’s own attempt to coerce religious leaders — of any faith — not to exhort their followers on spiritual grounds to engage in conduct that is otherwise legal.”

He ended with the words, “The power of a federal agency is no more than worldly. The Department should tend to what is Caesar’s, and leave the rest alone.” That seems to be a reference to Jesus’ words in Mark 12:17: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Kethledge also co-wrote a book on leadership, “Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership through Solitude,” about the importance of reflection that draws on the examples of many leaders, including religious figures like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Pope John Paul II.

Like Kavanaugh, Kethledge also clerked for Kennedy. He practiced law for 15 years, which he has described as a  “service business.”

Courtesy: Religion News Service

Photo courtesy: ©

Publication date: July 9, 2018

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