12. September 2005 · Comments Off on Five Questions For Roberts · Categories: Politics, Science!

In today’s NYT, Glenn Reynolds lists five thought-provoking, and telling, questions he would like to see asked of Supreme Court Nominee John Roberts. My favorite is this:

3. Could a human-like artificial intelligence constitute a “person” for purposes of protection under the 14th Amendment, or is such protection limited, by the 14th Amendment’s language, to those who are “born or naturalized in the United States?”

I’m uncomfortable with Glenn’s unqualified use of “born or naturalized in the United States,” as decisions such as Plyer and Wong Wing have since extended equal protection to aliens as well. But the question is still valid, and one I have used, along with others, to discredit the “personhood begins at conception” argument of “pro-life” religious fundimentalists.

And, surely, this is the stuff of science fiction today (see Star Trek: The Next Generation; The Measure of a Man). But the Roberts Court is likely to extend many years into the future. And questions such as this are sure to come-up.

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