Bulletin
Investor Alert

Associated Press Archives | Email alerts

Sept. 26, 2020, 2:38 p.m. EDT

If Barrett joins, Supreme Court would have six Catholics

It’s a striking development given that the high court, for most of its history, was almost entirely populated by white male Protestants

new
Watchlist Relevance
LEARN MORE

Want to see how this story relates to your watchlist?

Just add items to create a watchlist now:

or Cancel Already have a watchlist? Log In

By Associated Press

1 2

Sotomayor is the only Democratic nominee in that period who is Catholic. The other three -- Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan -- have been Jewish.

John Gehring, Catholic program director at the Washington-based clergy network Faith in Public Life, said Catholics are major players in the conservative legal movement who invest in law schools and in well-funded networks that often serve as pipelines to high-profile judicial appointments.

“The Catholic intellectual tradition has produced giants of liberal thought as well, but in recent decades the right has done a better job building institutions that nurture pathways to power,” Gehring said via email.

“The problem is not how many justices are Catholic,” he added. “The cause for alarm is the court’s ideological lurch to the right, and what that means for health care, voting rights and other moral issues at stake in this election.”

Thomas Groome, a professor of theology and religious education at Boston College, suggested the high percentage of Catholic justices was coincidental.

“I don’t think there’s any scheme or plot to bring Catholics to the Supreme Court,” he said. “Catholics are now mainstream in the life of American culture, and they have the resources to get the kind of education and opportunities that are needed if one is going to rise that high.”

Referring to the high court’s six conservatives, Groome said he preferred the term “traditionalist” and expressed his wish that they would not overturn the health care plan implemented by President Barack Obama.

“If they are Catholic in the tradition of Pope Francis or Jesus of Nazareth, the last thing in the world they should do is vote against the Affordable Care Act,” he said.

In 2017, in Senate hearings on her nomination to a federal appeals court, Barrett underwent some aggressive questioning about whether her Catholic faith would cloud her legal judgments.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue, who seeks to combat perceived anti-Catholic bias, says similar questioning is unlikely this time around.

“That’s because those who made those remarks paid a heavy price for doing so,” he wrote on his group’s website.

Sara Hutchinson Ratcliffe, acting president of Catholics for Choice, said she remained concerned.

“As Catholics, certainly our faith helps us to form our conscience and our ideas and how we live our faith,” she said. “But our religious beliefs should never be a substitute for impartial jurisprudence.”

___

1 2
This Story has 0 Comments
Be the first to comment
More News In
Economy & Politics

Story Conversation

Commenting FAQs »
Link to MarketWatch's Slice.