Many conservatives were upset after the Supreme Court ruled against part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on Wednesday. Televangelist Pat Robertson exemplified this reaction Thursday, suggesting Justice Anthony Kennedy had been unfairly influenced in his decision, perhaps by any "gays" working for him.
Robertson, a controversial elder statesman in America's evangelical community, made the comments during his daily television program "The 700 Club." Introducing Jay Sekulow, a guest from the conservative American Center for Law and Justice, Robertson asked about Kennedy, a California-born justice who has served on the Supreme Court since 1988.
"Jay let me ask you about Anthony Kennedy," Robertson said. "Does he have some clerks that happen to be gays?"
After a second of silence, Sekulow said he "had no idea" what sexual orientation Kennedy's clerks were, adding later in the segment that "I don't know about the background of his clerks -- I've had a lot of cases in front of Justice Kennedy and frankly most of the time he rules in our favor."
Robertson's comments may remind some of similar, if less subtle, insinuations made by same-sex marriage opponents in 2011, after it was announced that the federal judge who overturned California's Proposition 8 was gay.
Chief Judge Vaughn Walker, now retired, dismissed any claims of bias, however, as did the majority of legal experts.
"I know of no instance in which a judge has been disqualified because of his or her race, religion, sexual orientation or gender," Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law scholar who leads the law school at the University of California, Irvine, told TIME. "This would mean that no African-American judge could have heard a challenge to segregation laws or no woman judge a challenge to a law discriminating based on sex. No court ever has suggested any such thing, nor will it."
While not himself a legal scholar, Robertson does have a knack for inciting controversy on social issues. Some of his most infamous comments include telling the wife of a cheating man that she needs to work harder to keep his attention, joking that a man should convert to Islam in order to beat his wife and advising a teenager to pray over Goodwill sweaters in case they are possessed by the devil.