The Religious Make-Up of the Supreme Court

Supreme Court

In the wake of Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, more and more reporters are asking questions about the religious make-up of the Court.  (See Sarah McCammon’s NPR segment here). If confirmed, Kavanaugh will be the sixth Catholic on the 9-member court.

Check out Yonat Shimron’s recent piece at Religion News Service.  I was happy to contribute to the piece:

Today, Catholics make up a declining share of Americans — just 20 percent, according to Pew Research (down from 23.9 percent a decade earlier). Jews are a far smaller number — barely 2 percent.

The United States has elected only one Catholic president (John F. Kennedy) and one Catholic vice president (Joseph Biden). It has had no Jewish presidents or vice presidents.

So, why their dominance on the court?

It may have something to do with the value the two minority faiths place on higher education and the religions’ openness to intellectual inquiry, said John Fea, professor of American history at Messiah College.

“Unlike evangelicals who base their entire worldview on the teachings of the Bible, Catholics and Jews seem much more open to engaging in larger principles that will affect not only their own community, but the common good of the republic or of a nation beyond the needs of their particular religious tradition,” Fea said.

For most of America’s history, the court was composed almost entirely of Protestants.

Read the entire piece here.