Q: If Elena Kagan is confirmed to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, the Supreme Court would for the first time in its history be without a justice belonging to America’s largest religious affiliations — the Protestant traditions. If Kagan is confirmed, six of the justices will be Roman Catholic and three will be Jewish. Should the Supreme Court be more representative of America’s religious traditions? Does religion matter in the mix of experience and expertise that a president seeks in a Supreme Court nominee?
My wife and I take our car to a wonderful garage, and I’ve never once asked the religious affiliation of the mechanics. They know their craft and do a great job on our old clunkers. When we moved to our present location years ago, we asked for the name of a good dentist, never once stipulating our preference in religions. Of course, when we were recommended to Dr. Hyman, we could have guessed about his religious affiliation! Despite the differences in where we worship – and our views on the Middle East – he is a marvelous tooth extractor.
I tend to have the same opinion of Supreme Court justices. Although there is every likelihood that there will be a new Quaker judge at the Circuit Court level – and thus a future Supreme Court nominee of the Friendly persuasion – I really don’t care if the High Court has “one of my kind” on it. I want the best and the brightest, people of integrity, folks who know their Constitution from a hole in the ground.
Besides, whether one is Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish doesn’t make much of a difference apart from what day of the week they worship and whether they slather “shmear” on their bagels in Hebrew, German, English or Latin. Their religious worldview (the mythical “Judeo-Christian” universe) would be remarkably similar.
Now, would I like to see a Muslim, “Hindu,” Taoist, aboriginal, atheist, or Buddhist on the Supreme Court? Yes! Now THAT might begin to represent the marvelous diversity of the United States a bit more. I’ll not hold my breath, though. I guess I should be satisfied that we have a Muslim in the White House. (PLEASE note the tongue firmly planted in the cheek!)