At Boston.com, the Boston Globe points out a startling fact or two or three regarding yesterday's Supreme Court nomination:
Judge Sonia Sotomayor has much to distinguish her, but one element of her biography stands out in the world of those interested in religion and the public square: she is Catholic, and, if approved as a Supreme Court justice, she will be the sixth Catholic on the nine-member court. That is a remarkable accomplishment for American Catholics, who make up 23 percent of the nation's population, and will now potentially hold 67 percent of the high court's seats. Two of the justices are Jewish; the resignation of Justice David Souter, who is an Episcopalian, will leave, amazingly given the history of this nation, just one Protestant on the Supreme Court, 89-year-old Justice John Paul Stevens.
What does this work out to?
- Catholics represent 2/3 of the Supreme Court seats, but 23% of the population, for a representation ratio of 2.9:1.
- Jews are 17% of the Court but 2.1% of the population, for a ratio of 8.1:1.
- And Protestants bring up a very small rear: 8% of the Court but something like 50% of the population, for a ratio of 0.16:1.
What of that lone Protestant? Apparently, he leaves it at that, naming no denomination in particular.
To make the equation even more fascinating, of the 103 Justices in the history of the Supreme Court, only 3 have belonged to a denomination that might be called evangelical: they were Baptists. Maybe you could count Huguenots, too, which were sort of evangelical, weren't they? There was one of those (Gabriel Duval, 1811-1835).
So this begets the question: Aside from Jews being so "overrepresented," what is it about Catholics that makes them better Supreme Court material than Protestants? Any why are evangelicals only slightly better represented than Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims (those three all at zero)?
If I were Catholic, I'd be crowing right now, claiming that the Catholic intellectual tradition is obviously superior to that of the Protestants. I would also say that the anti-intellectualism of contemporary evangelicalism has borne the fruit it deserves.
But I'm Protestant, and evangelical at that, so I'll ask, instead: Where are the brilliant evangelical jurists? Or is such a term a necessary oxymoron?
(An interesting site from which I got many of my statistics is adherents.com.)