The Corner

Law & the Courts

Slate vs. Judge Pryor

Federal appeals-court judge William Pryor wrote a dissent denying that a juror’s calling on God for help demonstrated, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he could not perform his duties. Matthew Franck defends Judge Pryor on NRO, Andrew Cohen trashes him at Slate, and Josh Hammer writes at Daily Wire that Cohen is misrepresenting the case.

It looks to me pretty clear that Cohen is in the wrong here. Judge Pryor makes a sensible distinction between praying for the wisdom to weigh the evidence in a case rightly (permissible) and insisting that God has provided the verdict without any need to weigh that evidence (impermissible), and concludes that the evidence indicates that the juror fell on the correct side of the line. Cohen just pretends that Pryor didn’t make that distinction and is fine with a juror’s falling on the wrong side of it.

I’d say Cohen is violating the commandment about bearing false witness, but I’m afraid it would become a federal case.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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