The Washington Post asks , “Does President Obama’s next Supreme Court nominee need to be a Protestant?”
If Justice John Paul Stevens decides to call it a career after he turns 90 next month, the Supreme Court would for the first time in its history be without a justice belonging to America’s largest religious affiliations.
Perhaps that would mean only that religion is no longer important in the mix of experience and expertise that a president seeks in a Supreme Court nominee. There was a time, of course, in which there was a “Catholic seat” on the court, followed in 1916 with the appointment of the court’s first Jew. The days when one of each seemed sufficient are long over.
Catholics became a majority of the nine-member court in 2006 with the confirmation of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. Justice Sonia Sotomayor made it six last summer. And the other two justices besides Stevens are Jewish.
Of the 112 Justices who have been appointed to the court, 91 have been from various Protestant denominations, 13 have been Catholics (one other Justice, Sherman Minton, converted to Catholicism after leaving the Court) and seven have been Jewish. Mainline Protestants have historically been overrepresented (Although Episcopalians constitute only 2 percent of the population, they have made up 34 percent of the court) while evangelical Protestants have been all but non-existent (there have been as many Quakers and Huguenots on the court as Southern Baptistone from each denomination).
I think I can speak for many of my fellow conservative evangelicals, however, in saying that even if the quota wasn’t going to go to another mainline Protestant WASP, we wouldn’t have much interest in a religious affirmative action program. Personally, I’d rather have someone on the bench like Scalia, Thomas, or Roberts who shares my judicial philosophy than have a quota for someone merely because they can share a pew with me on Sunday morning.
(Via: Frank Lockwoo d)