The Protestant-Free, Harvard/Yale-Only Supreme Court

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

If Elena Kagan is confirmed as the next justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, the religious and educational composition of the high court will be narrowly defined. No Protestants will be serving on the court, with Kagan giving the court three Jewish members, and the rest being Catholic. This will be the first time in American history that the Supreme Court will be without a Protestant member.

It is worth noting though, that historically Protestants have been over-represented on the highest court. Despite constituting 51% of the nation’s population, they have accounted for 83% of Supreme Court justices.
A court featuring Kagan also will skew heavily along a Harvard-Yale axis, despite the fact that there are 200 law schools in the United States that are accredited by the American Bar Association. Like Kagan (and Barack Obama) four justices (John Roberts, Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia) graduated from Harvard Law School, while Ruth Bader Ginsburg attended the prestigious school before transferring to Columbia University when her husband accepted a job in New York. Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas received their JDs from Yale Law School.
One more statistical oddity about the upcoming composition of the Supreme Court: if Kagan is confirmed, four of the nine justices will have grown up in New York City. The others are Scalia, Ginsburg and Sotomayor. This means that the city, which represents less than 3% of the U.S. population, will have spawned 44% of the current justices.
-David Wallechinsky
The Protestant-Free Court (by Ed Kilgore, FiveThirtyEight Politics Done Right)
A New York Bloc on the Supreme Court (by James Barron, New York Times)
Should Obama’s Supreme Court Choice be Non-Ivy League and Non-Northeast? (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


Gabriella 13 years ago
Aside from ivy league elitism, or YALE/HARVARD elitism rather, what interests me about Kagan is that there is little I know about her in terms of her policy positions. Her religion or education background give no insight into how she will be as a justice. What values will she uphold? Obama names her skills as a "consensus-builder" as a main reason he appointed her (she recruited conservative professors during her time as Dean at Harvard Law School). But how can this be translated into her time as a Supreme Court Justice? It is unreasonable to make such an assumption. Furthermore, why can't Democracts take advantage of a liberal controlled court and appoint someone who we know through past experience, opinions, writings, will uphold liberal views and values. Why do we as democrats keep losing our chance in the name of "consensus"? Republicans take advantage of a conservative dominated court and appoint people they KNOW will not falter on their values (Sam Alito, John Roberts). Why can't we do the same?!

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