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?
The religious values held by Justices of the Supreme Court, as they are interwoven with issues of public policy, may matter — but absolutely not in the sense of “Which religion do you belong to?” That question is less and less meaningful in America today. The Judaisms of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and of Alan Dershowitz are separated by a deep, wide chasm. So are the Protestantisms of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ergun Caner; the Catholicisms of Sister Joan Chittister and Bishop Joseph Ratzinger; and the Mormonisms of Stuart Udall and of Mitt Romney.
The Constitution still reads, “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”