Judges Must Rely On U.S. Law, Not Religious Dogma

Judges must rely on American law, not religious opinion, in handing down penalties for crimes.

That's the message from a Nebraska case the U.S. Supreme Court turned down in January. The justices without comment declined to review a Nebraska decision against a judge who quoted the Bible as he was sentencing a defendant.

Sarpy County Judge George Thompson read seven verses from the first chapter of the Book of Romans condemning homosexual relations when he gave Aaron Pattno up to five years in prison for the sexual assault of a minor. Pattnoi had established a relationship with a 13-year-old boy he met on the Internet that culminated in kissing and fondling.

In his appeal, Pattno, who had no prior record of sex offenses, said the judge's religious hostility toward same-sex relations provoked a harsher than necessary penalty.

In its 6-0 decision June 5, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that Thompson's religious reading undermined the impartiality of the...

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