Why So Many Catholic Justices on the Supreme Court? Why Now?
The Supreme Court has been dominated since the founding of our country by mainline Protestants, but with Samuel Alito joining Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and John Roberts, five of the nine justices are now Catholics. All five have been appointed in the last 20 years. In the previous 200 years, only seven Catholics have served on the Court.
There may be political explanations for the attractiveness of Catholic justices, but I think three Catholic doctrines -- natural law, subsidiarity, and religious freedom -- help to explain why a majority of the justices are now Catholic. My argument is not that citizens who support, presidents who appoint, and senators who confirm these justices consciously do so because they want Catholic religious beliefs on the Court, but that these doctrines yield habits of thinking that make Catholics attractive candidates to the broad range of the American people.
I write as an Evangelical, but one who has come to share a commitment to the Catholic doctrines that I will mention.
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