Catholics Gain a Super Majority on the Supreme Court

Monday, August 10, 2009
Cultural coverage of Sonia Sotomayor’s ascension to the Supreme Court has centered on her ethnicity (first Hispanic) and her sex (third woman). Overlooked in the excitement is her religion. Sotomayor is a Roman Catholic. No big deal? With her confirmation, six of the nine justices of the Supreme Court are Catholic. Sotomayor joins Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Catholics, who represent 25% of the U.S. population, now have a two-thirds majority on the nation’s highest court. Never before in U.S. history have six sitting justices of the Supreme Court been members of the same religious denomination.
Since two of the other three justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, are Jewish, that leaves just one Protestant, 89-year-old John Paul Stevens, to represent the 53% of Americans who identify themselves as Protestants. Retired Justice David Souter is an Episcopalian, as is another recently retired judge, Sandra Day O’Connor, With Souter’s departure, the Supreme Court will be without an Episcopalian for the first time in more than 50 years.
Considering that Sotomayor is only the eleventh Catholic Supreme Court justice ever, the Catholic dominance of the current Court is startling. However, it is clear from their records that the six Catholic justices are highly unlikely to rule as a block.
-David Wallechinsky


protestant 14 years ago
The Catholic super majority in the highest court is serious. Historically the Catholic religion has sought to gain control of the world. Religious liberty is at stake here.
Glenn 14 years ago
What a stupid comment! What is ignorant or bigoted about an odd historical occurence? The article even points out the unliklihood that the six would vote in a block.
Esox Lucius 14 years ago
The fact that their religion is even the subject of a news article just goes to show your ignorance and religious bigotry. Why don't you do a story on something equally as stupid like their shoe size or bowling average. Hasn't your quaint questioning of the supreme court justices religion gone out of style in the 1920's? Give it a rest and focus on something important.

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