“Jew-heavy Supreme Court moves right as the synagogue moves left.”
That is a headline you will never see published by any respectable news outlet. Not just because the Jewish community in the United States is historically left-leaning, so it’s not likely that Jewish Supreme Court justices will start leaning right ideologically. No, it’s because no respectable news outlet would ever publish such a blatantly anti-Semitic headline, or even raise the question of whether or not there are too many Jews on the Supreme Court.
“Catholic-heavy Supreme Court moves right as the church moves left.”
Now, there’s a headline for you. This recent article by Jacob Lupfer, published by Religion News Service and picked up as an op-ed by a number of other outlets, raises alarm at the number of Catholics on the Supreme Court. Perhaps the alarm is more about their conservative leanings than their Catholic faith. Lupfer, after all, seems less concerned about Justice Kennedy or Justice Sotomayor’s Catholicism. Kennedy was a swing vote, and Sotomayor is liberal. Though, Lupfer does raise a red flag over his perception that Kavanaugh “is more heavily and outwardly invested in his Catholic identity than his mentor” [Kennedy, for whom Kavanaugh once clerked]. Sounds like Lupfer is suggesting that Kavanaugh is too Catholic for a seat on the Supreme Court. Yes, we should definitely include a religious litmus test in our vetting of potential Supreme Court justices, but only for the Catholic ones, or only those “heavily and outwardly invested in their Catholic identity.”
Lupfer goes a bit further than most, insisting that the Catholics on the Supreme Court are making rulings that are contrary to Catholic social teaching. So, maybe they’re not too Catholic, after all. Maybe they’re not Catholic enough. Lupfer seems to want it both ways: he is concerned that Kavanaugh is more heavily and outwardly invested in his Catholic identity on the one hand but, on the other hand, accuses the Catholic justices on the Court of not ruling according to Catholic social teaching. When I read the articles Lupfer links to justify this critique, it seems to me that the Catholic justices are ruling according to the Constitution and the responsibility of Congress to make laws, not the Supreme Court. But, maybe Lupfer has a better understanding of Catholic social teaching and how it directly applies to policy than I do, and a better understanding of how the Constitution works than the Supreme Court justices, or at least the Catholic ones.
Under no circumstances would a nominee to any government position be so scrutinized on the question of his or her faith other than a Catholic nominated for a judgeship. I don’t recall anyone raising the question of Breyer, Ginsburg, or Kagan’s Jewish background when they were nominated to the Supreme Court. Had anyone done so, they would have been rightly hounded for such anti-Semitic tendencies. I don’t recall the fact that Gorsuch attends Episcopal services being brought up as a red flag. Had anyone done so, I’m sure people would have scratched their heads wondering what all the fuss was about, and others would write op-eds denouncing any religious litmus test. So, why is it that every single time a Catholic is nominated to the Supreme Court, or for other positions as well, it seems, we have our regular diet of articles and op-ed’s raising concerns about their Catholicism?
Jacob Lupfer, Religion News Service, and the other media outlets who picked up Lupfer’s article and ran it as an op-ed ought to be ashamed of themselves, raising the specter of popish plots to undermine the American way. Those Catholics who have served on the Supreme Court have done so honorably and in the best tradition of Constitutional law. That their allegiance to the rule of law or their allegiance to the faith is called into question is unconscionable. To imply that their allegiance to their faith calls into question their allegiance to the rule of law is insulting and unworthy of serious consideration by legitimate, respectable news outlets. And yet, there it is.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.