Bean-counting Catholic justices

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz | July 2nd, 2014

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Bean-counting Catholic justices

Among the more deranged (among many) reac­tions to the Supreme Court deci­sion on Bur­well v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., you’ll find this:
The Uncom­fort­able Ques­tion: Should We Have Six Catholic Jus­tices on the Supreme Court?

In Jus­tice Alito’s major­ity opin­ion, he relies squarely on Catholic teach­ing about “com­plic­ity” to explain the sup­posed bur­den. In doing so, he reit­er­ates the argu­ment that the Catholic Church has made in the dozens of law­suits it has brought chal­leng­ing the con­tra­cep­tive man­date. Accord­ing to the Church, it vio­lates the moral oblig­a­tions of a Catholic to do any­thing — any­thing — that would “facil­i­tate” the pro­vi­sion of con­tra­cep­tion to an indi­vid­ual. So even if one is not using con­tra­cep­tion one­self, if one facil­i­tates access to con­tra­cep­tion by oth­ers, a grave moral wrong has been committed.

The man writ­ing that non­sense does not bother to define exactly what he means by Catholic teach­ing about “com­plic­ity”, and clearly ignores the fact that Hobby Lobby will­ingly pro­vides insur­ance cov­er­age for 16 types of con­tra­cep­tives.

Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor Robert P. George addresses the uncom­fort­able ques­tion in this morning’s Face­book post:

It is true that six jus­tices are (at least nom­i­nally) Catholic, though only 24% of Amer­i­cans are mem­bers of that faith.

It is also true that three jus­tices are Jew­ish, though less than 2% (1.7% to be exact) of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion are Jewish.

So the folks on the left who are ques­tion­ing the appro­pri­ate­ness of hav­ing so many Catholic jus­tices should be asked to tell us which reli­gious group in the U.S. they believe is most highly over­rep­re­sented on the Supreme Court.

And what about under­rep­re­sen­ta­tion? The largest reli­gious group in the U.S., Evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians, are nearly 27%. The num­ber of Evan­gel­i­cals on the Supreme Court: Zero. Hmmmm .… What do our friends on the left who are com­plain­ing about the over­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Catholics on the Court have to say about that? Aren’t Evan­gel­i­cals, if we are bean count­ing, enti­tled to at least 2 seats?

And the third largest reli­gious group in the coun­try are main­line Protes­tants, at about 18%. Shouldn’t they have a seat?

And what about the LDS Church (the Mor­mons)? The Mor­mon pop­u­la­tion in the U.S. is as large as the Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion and is grow­ing faster. Do the LDS have three seats on the Supreme Court? Nope. There are no Mor­mons among the justices.

Well, shall we stop play­ing the bean count­ing game?

Prof. George’s com­menter Lynn approaches the issue:

A solid jurist shouldn’t be judged by reli­gious affil­i­a­tion. Rather judged by judi­cial tem­pera­ment and thor­ough knowl­edge of the laws.

Yes, but their duty is to uphold the Con­sti­tu­tion of the United States of Amer­ica, to which they are bound by solemn oath. And, by the way, one of their oaths specif­i­cally states “no reli­gious Test shall ever be required as a Qual­i­fi­ca­tion to any Office or pub­lic Trust under the United States.”

Amen to that!

faustaFausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. & Latin Amer­i­can pol­i­tics and cul­ture at Fausta’s blog.

Among the more deranged (among many) reactions to the Supreme Court decision on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., you’ll find this:
The Uncomfortable Question: Should We Have Six Catholic Justices on the Supreme Court?

In Justice Alito’s majority opinion, he relies squarely on Catholic teaching about “complicity” to explain the supposed burden. In doing so, he reiterates the argument that the Catholic Church has made in the dozens of lawsuits it has brought challenging the contraceptive mandate. According to the Church, it violates the moral obligations of a Catholic to do anything — anything — that would “facilitate” the provision of contraception to an individual. So even if one is not using contraception oneself, if one facilitates access to contraception by others, a grave moral wrong has been committed.

The man writing that nonsense does not bother to define exactly what he means by Catholic teaching about “complicity”, and clearly ignores the fact that Hobby Lobby willingly provides insurance coverage for 16 types of contraceptives.

Princeton University professor Robert P. George addresses the uncomfortable question in this morning’s Facebook post:

It is true that six justices are (at least nominally) Catholic, though only 24% of Americans are members of that faith.

It is also true that three justices are Jewish, though less than 2% (1.7% to be exact) of the U.S. population are Jewish.

So the folks on the left who are questioning the appropriateness of having so many Catholic justices should be asked to tell us which religious group in the U.S. they believe is most highly overrepresented on the Supreme Court.

And what about underrepresentation? The largest religious group in the U.S., Evangelical Christians, are nearly 27%. The number of Evangelicals on the Supreme Court: Zero. Hmmmm . . . . What do our friends on the left who are complaining about the overrepresentation of Catholics on the Court have to say about that? Aren’t Evangelicals, if we are bean counting, entitled to at least 2 seats?

And the third largest religious group in the country are mainline Protestants, at about 18%. Shouldn’t they have a seat?

And what about the LDS Church (the Mormons)? The Mormon population in the U.S. is as large as the Jewish population and is growing faster. Do the LDS have three seats on the Supreme Court? Nope. There are no Mormons among the justices.

Well, shall we stop playing the bean counting game?

Prof. George’s commenter Lynn approaches the issue:

A solid jurist shouldn’t be judged by religious affiliation. Rather judged by judicial temperament and thorough knowledge of the laws.

Yes, but their duty is to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, to which they are bound by solemn oath. And, by the way, one of their oaths specifically states “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Amen to that!

faustaFausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. & Latin American politics and culture at Fausta’s blog.

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