Three Jews and Six Catholics Walked Into The Supreme Court

Obama is said to have selected Elena Kagan, the current Solicitor General, as his choice to replace Justice John Paul Stevens upon his retirement.

Kagan in 2009; Source: The New York Times

Interestingly, religion plays into Supreme Court nominations.  Obama was considering two Jewish people for the Supreme Court nomination.  Stevens is Protestant – and apparently the only current Protestant Supreme Court Justice.  With Obama’s choice of Kagan, assuming she is confirmed, there will be no Protestant Justice.  This is interesting in the United States, with the country’s White Anglo-Saxon Protestant background.  Perhaps this is a step towards a more diverse country?  I’m sure Obama will be attacked for that one by someone.  Clearly diversity is bad.  Oh wait…

Interestingly, one Rabbi stated “that possibly having no Protestant justice member on the court could be seen as a lack of diversity, but he also stressed that this has more to do with the court having six Catholic justices.”  How ironic.

Kagan is said to have views that are in line with the Jewish community.  That could prove to be good for the Jewish community.  She is also said to be liberal, but fairly moderate.  That should get her Republican support.  I hope that she rules without political bias though, the same way I believe all Supreme Court Justices should.  That may be a little utopian though.

The religious makeup of the Supreme Court has changed dramatically over time.  In 1800, it looked like this:

Source: adherents.com on NPR

And in 2000, before Stevens’ retirement, it looks like:

Source: adherents.com on NPR

According to an author quoted by NPR, “religion is the third rail of Supreme Court politics. It’s not something that’s talked about in polite company”.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the Senate over the next few weeks and what the commentators have to say.

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About Joel Portman
Network Builder. Diversity and Inclusion Advocate. Social Media Enthusiast. Lover of family, friends, the outdoors, travel, and learning. I have experience working in the healthcare, education, diversity/inclusion, retail, and non-profit industries with organizations ranging in size from five people to Fortune 500. I am an MBA graduate of the University of Denver.

5 Responses to Three Jews and Six Catholics Walked Into The Supreme Court

  1. Sasha Shtern says:

    I really don’t think religion would play into any differentiating decision at the supreme court. The only question is if the nominee is religious or not. This one is not, so it’s a pretty strong affirmation of roe v wade.

    Politically it might be a carrot towards jews who are realizing obama wasn’t the best man for israel’s interests, but nothing more.

  2. Kathleen says:

    I think religion is an interesting consideration for the SC Justices, although perhaps not a terribly important one. For any judge or justice, the importance placed in the Constitution and precedent suggests an attitude that tends towards civil religion. As I see it, religious background plays a secondary role to civil religion in a justice’s decision making process. Religion plays as much a role as any other part of someone’s background, but probably not more.

    Rather than the effect on future decisions, what I find interesting is the cause. Does Catholicism and/or Judaism tend to drive legal/judicial careers disproportionately more than other religions or atheism? If so, why? If not, why isn’t there more representation of other religions/atheism?

  3. Sasha Shtern says:

    You’re asking why jews become lawyers?

    🙂

  4. Kathleen says:

    Haha Is that just an accepted truth?

  5. Pingback: 2010 in Review « Joel Portman

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