Justice Pierce Butler’s Catholicism

Over at Concurring Opinions, Gerard Magliocca has an interesting post on how Supreme Court Justice Pierce Butler’s Catholicism may have influenced his dissent in Buck v. Bell, the famous 1927 case upholding sterilization of the mentally handicapped. Apparently Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who wrote the majority opinion in the case (“Three generations of imbeciles are enough”), thought Catholicism did influence Butler’s vote. Check it out.

More on Syria’s Christians

As I wrote here last fall, Syria’s Christians have shown a lot of ambivalence about the civil war taking place in their country. Assad runs a police state, but his secular government protects Christians, who make up about 10% 0f the population, allowing them churches, schools, and community centers. When Syria’s Christians consider the persecution of Iraqi Christians that followed the fall of Saddam, and the persecution of Coptic Christians that followed the fall of Mubarak, they wonder what a “democratic” government in Syria would do for them. Not without reason, they worry that the Sunni opposition, if it ever gained power, would be less concerned with their human rights than the Ba’ath Party.

Two recent articles provide some background on the situation. The first is an essay in the New York Times by Clark University historian Taner Akcam, whose recent book I noted here.  Akcam writes that Turkey’s Prime Minister Recip Erdogan has been speaking a lot lately about the need to protect human rights in Syria. Erdogan’s statements are unlikely to reassure Syrian Christians, Akcam Read more