Monday, October 31, 2005

Declining (and increasing) importance of religion

David Bernstein points ut that if Alito is confirmed, there will be a Catholic majority on the Supreme Court, with two seat held by Jews and two by Protestants. We might well congratulate ourselves on having kicked prejudice in having such a non-WASP (emphasis on P) Court, but that is a bit easy because religion isn't randomly distributed on the Court. The Catholic majority is going to be the conservative wing of the Court (Alito, Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas) with the non-Catholics to their left (though being Jewish doesn't exactly track degree of leftiness: Breyer is, I think -- correct me if I'm wildly misguided -- less left than Stevens). Which does not say that we no longer care about religion. Because Catholicism is such a nice predictor of conservatism, it shows that religion is serving some other purpose. I speculate that this has everything to do with Catholicism being a good signal of pro-life views. Though it would be significantly more interesting if being Catholic were a good signal of something less, well, predictable. Like: a certain intellectual style or commitment to a certain kind of conservatism that is appealing in conservative legal circles.

2 Comments:

Anonymous dick said...

Good Grief!! Five Catholics? Who are the agnostics and/or athiests and/or naturalists on the court? Talk about imbalance !!! Is anyone holding any judgeship (federal) an athiest? Is there any athiest in the Congress?

Of note; a recent poll showed 50% of English do not believe in God...however 75% of English do believe in ghosts.

7:42 AM  
Blogger Isaac said...

Well, this is the problem of having reductionist views about representation: where's the representation for the young? Where's the representation for the non-lawyers? Where's the representation for the poor?

4:18 PM  

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