Time for a Protestant on the Supreme Court

by Sylvester Connor

The Connor Post Editorial – April 26, 2016

Justice Scalia died, apparently with a pillow over his head, and was quickly cremated without an autopsy. Nothing unusual about that. As Scott Adams pointed out, Scalia had a good sense of humor.

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But that’s not the biggest mystery. The bigger mystery is why his death is so important. Scalia’s death highlights the immense power that nine – now eight – unelected individuals wield in what is otherwise a democratic republic.

Not only are they unelected, with lifetime appointments – no term limits here – they have a power unique in America’s tripartite government. The President and the Congress must answer to the Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court answers to nobody. Its word is final, its authority absolute.

And while you may think that sounds almost like an oligarchy, a monarchy of nine (or eight), there’s worse. This most undemocratic, unaccountable branch of America’s government is also its most unrepresentative. All the justices are lawyers (this did not used to be so). All are from Harvard or Yale. They’re almost all from the East Coast (two exceptions), generally New York.

And there is not a Protestant among them.

There hasn’t been since John Paul Stevens retired in 2010. According to PEW research, 48% of the people in the US self-identified as Protestant. A cursory trawl of the internet reveals – according to Wiki – that Jews are somewhere between 1.7 – 2.6% of total U.S. population. Look around more and you’ll find that Catholics are 20 – 30% of the population (depending on whether you want to count illegals, something that doesn’t boost Protestant numbers to quite the same extent).

Since half the US is Protestant, it is rather jarring to see absolute authority vested in a Catholic/Jewish confederacy.

It is especially unnerving when you consider how preoccupied America’s courts have been with the separation of church and state. In practice, this has meant ending public activities by Christians, such as displaying the cross, on the grounds that majoritarian religious practices impose their religion on non-Christians, atheists or fringe sects.

The inability of the Court to distinguish religious practice from religious imposition is incomprehensible to most Americans. Try it for yourself: see if you can explain how public Protestantism went from protected expression, to unprotected, to unconstitutional, all under the same Constitution, interpreted by the same court.

But it’s not the same court anymore, is it? Of course, it would be impolitic to relate the creeping marginalization of Protestants to the religious persuasions of the Supreme Court. But surely we can at least ask why we have this bizarre reverse discrimination in our highest court.

That’s a fair question. However, since no answer will be forthcoming, as an internet search will show, let’s forget about that question and pose an easier one instead:

Isn’t it time for a Protestant on the Supreme Court?