Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition
is a popular meme which, if you click the link, is supported by videos viewed by millions, graphic images, and even T-shirts. It has not been used in reference to the Supreme Court. Yet.
Contrary to everything I understand about religion vis-à-vis
the Judicial Branch within the Union is reflected in this from Wikipedia
Of the 113 justices who have been appointed to the court, 91 have been from various Protestant denominations, 12 have been Catholics (one other justice, Sherman Minton, converted to Catholicism after leaving the Court). Another, Neil Gorsuch, was raised in the Catholic Church but later attended an Episcopal church, though without specifying the denomination to which he felt he belonged.
At the beginning of 2010, Justice John Paul Stevens was the sole remaining Protestant on the Court In April 2010, Justice Stevens announced his retirement, effective as of the Court's 2010 summer recess. Upon Justice Stevens' retirement, which formally began on June 28, 2010, the Court lacked a Protestant member, marking the first time in its history that it was exclusively composed of Jewish and Catholic justices. Although in January 2017, after seven years with no Protestant justices serving or nominated, President Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Court, as noted above it is unclear whether Gorsuch considers himself a Catholic or an Episcopalian.
This development led to some comment. Law school professor Jeffrey Rosen wrote that "it's a fascinating truth that we've allowed religion to drop out of consideration on the Supreme Court, and right now, we have a Supreme Court that religiously at least, by no means looks like America".
That "we have a Supreme Court that religiously at least, by no means looks like America" is a bit of an understatement. Consider this chart:
While generally courts are expected to administer the law as written, or at least as the judge reads it, the Supreme Court applies standards to laws to decide if they violate statements such as "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States."
Some of us think that which religion one was raised in can influence what one believes is right and wrong. Some of us think that one's values are influenced by grade school and high school experiences. Some of us think that adults make judgements based upon their associations with their college professors and fellow university students, as much as they do based on which books they read.
yes, it is troubling not only for law school professor Jeffrey Rosen but of many Americans that five of the eight current Supreme Court Justices were raised Roman Catholic while the other three were raised in Judaism. It is also troubling that four of the eight (half) attended parochial schools. It is also troubling that not one attended a state institution of higher learning at any time in their college education.
Even if one ignores the fact that only three of the Justices are women, or only one is Hispanic and only one is black while seven are white, one could comfortably state that we have a Supreme Court that by no means looks like America in terms of formation of values and intellect
Note that the caption under the picture at the top of this post states "Theonomists use Biblical moral pronouncements as the standard by which the laws of governments may be measured." It's surprisingly easy for many older persons to dismiss this theonomist concern about the Court when discussed only in the context of abortion or gay marriage. But it isn't quite as easy to dismiss it when considering Justice Neil Gorsuch's reasoned doctoral thesis that asserts that assisted suicide for the terminally ill is homicide - no mitigations are allowed:
What if within the next decade the Constitutionality of state laws allowing assisted suicide for terminally ill patients is resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court? Here are excerpts from The Right to Receive Assistance in Suicide and Euthanasia, with Particular Reference to the Law of the United States written in 2004 by Trump-appointed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, when he was a candidate for a DPhil degree in law (legal philosophy), University College, Oxford, supervised by the natural law philosopher John Finnis :
I consider legal doctrine surrounding autonomy and personal privacy, and conclude that it is likely too weak a foundation on which to build a judicially created right to assisted suicide (Chapter V).
I submit that there is a secular moral theory which, to date, has been largely neglected in contemporary American debate over assisted suicide and euthanasia. This theory rests on the notion that the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.
After considering arguments from history, fairness, autonomy doctrine and theory, and utilitarianism, I suggested that courts and legislators may wish to consider a less frequently voiced perspective on the assisted suicide and euthanasia question, one grounded in the recognition of human life as a fundamental good. Under this view, private intentional acts of homicide are always wrong. Recognizing human life as intrinsically, not instrumentally, valuable, I submitted, would rule out assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Take a hard look at that list of Justices above.
One of the three names most mentioned by the "Trump people" to replace Kennedy is Amy Coney Barrett. Raised a Catholic, she graduated from St. Mary's Dominican High School in New Orleans. She received her BA from Rhodes College (formerly known as Southwestern Presbyterian University after being founded as the Masonic University of Tennessee), a private college located in Memphis, Tennessee. She then went to the Catholic Notre Dame Law School, where she taught full time as a Professor of Law from 2002 until 2017. She continues to teach part-time since since November 2, 2017, when she received Senate confirmation after President Donald Trump nominated Barrett to serve as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
She has seven children: five biological children and two children adopted from Haiti.
She is an active member of a particularly conservative Catholic religious group called People of Praise described as follows in Wikipedia
People of Praise
was formed in 1971 by Kevin Ranaghan and Paul DeCelles. Both men were involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, in which Pentecostal religious experiences such as baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues and prophecy were practiced by Catholics. In its early history, it influenced the institutional development of the Catholic Charismatic movement in the United States and played important roles in national charismatic conferences.
People of Praise practices a controversial form of spiritual direction that involves supervision of a member by a more spiritually mature person called a "head". People of Praise maintains that members retain their freedom of conscience under such direction. The community excludes women from the highest leadership positions and teaches that men are the spiritual leaders of their families. At the same time, it encourages women to pursue higher education and employment. Former People of Praise member and Catholic critic Adrian Reimers has accused People of Praise of being too ecumenical and of compromising Catholic teaching by embracing Protestant ecclesiology.
It is not a church or denomination, and membership is open to any baptized Christian who affirms the Nicene Creed and agrees to the community's covenant. The majority of its members are Catholics, but Protestants can also join. It has 21 branches in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean, with approximately 3,000 members including children. It founded a group of non-denominational Christian schools, Trinity Schools.
During Barrett's Circuit Judge confirmation hearing, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein questioned Barrett about whether her Catholic faith would influence her decision-making on the court. Feinstein, concerned about whether Barrett would uphold Roe v. Wade
given her Catholic beliefs, stated "the dogma lives loudly within you, and that is a concern". The line of questioning became a point of outrage from many of her defenders, both Catholic and non-Catholic alike.
The subject of Feinstein and other Democrats' concern was a 1998 article by Barrett where she argued that Catholic judges should in some cases recuse themselves from death penalty cases because of their moral objections to the death penalty. Feinstein's line of questioning was criticized by some observers and legal experts while defended by others.
During her hearing, Barrett said: "It is never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge's personal convictions, whether they arise from faith or anywhere else, on the law." That might seem comforting to some, but as reported
her academic writing is far less comforting to those who support Roe
"There is little reason to think that reversals [of past decisions] would do much damage" to the court's reputation, she wrote. "I tend to agree with those who say that a justice's duty is to the Constitution" rather than to a precedent she thinks is clearly in conflict with it.
People learn not only from the upbringing and education, but as young adults from who they work for. Barrett worked a year as clerk to late Justice Antonin Scalia. Over the years Scalia repeatedly called upon his colleagues to strike down Roe v. Wade
. In Obergefell v. Hodges
in which the 5-4 majority decision written by Justice Kennedy struck down laws prohibiting gay marriage, in his dissenting opinion Scalia noted there were no evangelical Christians on the Court (he also literally dismissed California which we'll explore later):
Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single South-westerner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans), or even a Protestant of any denomination.
Unlike her male counterparts, Barrett admits she is occasionally conflicted about her role as a judge relative to her religion. In a 1998 article Barrett argued that Catholic judges should in some cases recuse themselves from death penalty cases because of their moral objections to the death penalty. Presumably she does not want the murderer to die. And presumably she would be conflicted about physician assisted suicide, but whether she would recuse herself if that subject reached a court she was on is doubtful.
It is worth noting the other blunt, though perhaps heartfult, dissents in the Obergefell
Chief Justice Roberts noted: "Today’s decision...creates serious questions about religious liberty. Many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is—unlike the right imagined by the majority—actually spelled out in the Constitution." He goes further stating: "The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to “advocate” and “teach” their views of marriage. ...The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to “exercise” religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses." He does not elaborate on what he means by "exercise" religion in the context of its impact on others.
Justice Samuel Alito expressed concern that the majority's opinion would be used to attack the beliefs of those who disagree with same-sex marriage, who "will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools", leading to "bitter and lasting wounds" and defending the rationale of the states, accepting the premise that same-sex marriage bans serve to promote procreation and the optimal child rearing environment.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote: "Aside from undermining the political processes that protect our liberty, the majority’s decision threatens the religious liberty our Nation has long sought to protect." He extensively explored the history of religion in from the time of the colonies noting that "in our society, marriage is not simply a governmental institution; it is a religious institution as well" concluding that "today’s decision might change the former, but it cannot change the latter. It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.'
Thomas is unrestrained as he offers his key opinion about the primacy of his Catholic upbringing over other individual right issues such as the Constitutionality of state laws banning gay marriage:
The majority appears unmoved by that inevitability. It makes only a weak gesture toward religious liberty in a single paragraph.... And even that gesture indicates a misunderstanding of religious liberty in our Nation’s tradition. Religious liberty is about more than just the protection for “religious organizations and persons . . . as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.” ... Religious liberty is about freedom of action in matters of religion generally, and the scope of that liberty is directly correlated to the civil restraints placed upon religious practice.
"Religious liberty is about freedom of action in matters of religion
generally, and the scope of that liberty is directly correlated to the
civil restraints placed upon religious practice." What that literally says is that if a Christian majority in a community voted to start ducking witches (those that practice the Wicca religion), Thomas apparently would struggle with legally condemning the practice as he abhors civil restraints placed on religious practice. And he makes it clear that he thinks America's religious history deserves a place in the law as in his opinion he notes: "Many of the earliest immigrants to America came seeking freedom to practice their religion without restraint. ... When they arrived, they created their own havens for religious practice. ... Many of these havens were initially homogeneous communities with established religions."
Roberts, Alito, and Thomas are three of the four "conservatives" on the Court. Gorsuch, whose words about physician assisted suicide are quoted above, was not on the Court at the time of the Obergefell
The Threat of Christian Theonomist Rule
In the map below, the dark grey states are those that adopted certain theonomist laws in the years between 2011-2016, the years leading up to the 2016 elections in which the Republicans won the majority of U.S. House of Representatives, the majority of the U.S. Senate, and the office of U.S. President, which will lead to a solid Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court:
The issue these maps present isn't whether anyone has the right to believe in words in the Bible or rules of personal behavior pronounced by men based on those words. Rather it is what determines the proper role of a state in regulating the personal lives of its people, most particularly when large numbers of people disagree.
In those dark grey states if the adoption of Islamic Sharia law was proposed, those that backed the adoption of certain theonomist laws in the years between 2011-2016 would threaten revolution. In their minds they see no comparison between implementing laws restricting abortion and Sharia law.
As explained by Canadian professor of comparative religion who from 1964–1973 was director of Harvard University's Center for the Study of World Religions Wilfred Cantwell Smith
in his Islam in Modern History
: "What theology is for the Christian, law is for the Muslim." The problem is within these United States despite the assurances of separation of church and state, controversial biblical pronouncements have a way of becoming law. Thus when I saw the original of the greyed map, I realized that Smith's statement in 21st Century America would be: "W
hat should be Christian theology has become judicially imposed law within these United States."
My understanding is that the belief structure of the majority of the populous in those ten states resulted in the actions of two houses of each state's legislature and the governor of each state putting into law those restrictions.
For me the best understanding that belief structure can be found in the Kansans for Life: Issues web page
(Kansans for Life is the largest anti-abortion group in the state) telling their followers (emphasis
added) "Our society now
recognizes that past discrimination on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity and social status was deeply unjust."
That web page also indicates their immediate political agenda:
Pro-lifers oppose abortion because it takes the life of a human being before he or she is born....
We oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide....
We oppose embryonic stem cell research.... Human embryos are human beings.... And all human beings, regardless of appearance or location (e.g., a petri dish), ought to be treated with respect and not as mere raw material to use for the hypothetical benefit of others.
Notice that their newly discovered unjust discrimination basis does not include "religion"
which you might want to argue isn't an indicator of anything. Except you might notice the picture at the top of that issues web page:
And then you might move your cursor over to the "Resources" link at the top of the page and discover this:
Now one might accuse me of making an unfair judgement about people wishing to impose their religious beliefs on others and considering them dangerous to Californians. But I would call the reader's attention to this 2012 article The Koch Brothers and Kansans for Life: The Alliance That Killed the Kansas Moderate
or this Topeka rally for life brings thousands to state Capitol
The first explains how seeking to eliminate government regulations and taxes on business in just one red state the very successful national Koch brothers Neoliberal network joined with a strong Christian political movement which seeks to expand and tighten state and federal government regulations on the lives of individuals.
The second indicates the deep involvement of Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and the other Kansas bishops in the Kansans for Life political movement even using students from Catholic grade and high schools. Not that Kansans for Life is a Catholic organization which is clear from this:
Still, many have a problem with the abortion and gay marriage issues being used to demonstrate an insidious encroachment on freedom. Why would I think this is dangerous to Californians?
"California does not count." Justice Antonin Scalia
I was born in California. I went to elementary school in California. My California high school 1962 graduating class was 393± students.
It included 28 Japanese-American students (7%) who were born in the Internment Camps
where Japanese Americans were relocated - well, American citizens who were as little as 1/16 Japanese heritage and orphaned infants with "one drop of Japanese blood" were placed in internment camps.
It included 41 Hispanic students (10%). Many of their parents and/or grandparents were impacted by the so-called Mexican Repatriation
The Mexican Repatriation was a mass deportation of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans from the United States between 1929 and 1936. Estimates of how many were repatriated range from 400,000 to 2,000,000. An estimated sixty percent of those deported were birthright citizens of the United States. Because the forced movement was based on race, and ignored citizenship, the process arguably meets modern legal definitions of ethnic cleansing.
If you add in the two Black classmates (issues: slavery and segregation), the two Chinese classmates (issue: the 1892 - 1940 Chinese Exclusion Act, the only U.S. law ever to prevent immigration and naturalization on the basis of race), and the three Native American classmates (issue: genocide, forced relocation, and removal of children), the governments in the Union (with U.S. Supreme Court approval in some cases) committed heinous acts based on racial bigotry against the parents and/or grandparents of about 20% of my classmates.
Am I paranoid about young black men being murdered by cops, by Hispanic deportation outside the norms of our federal court system, the bluster and potential fallout from "Trade War with China" and the anti-Muslim rhetoric? Or are my concerns valid?
I'm a Californian whose high school graduation in 1962 included a non-mandatory separate invocation event held apart from the graduation ceremony. It was jointly led by a Buddhist Priest, a Jewish Rabbi, a
Protestant Minister, and a Catholic Priest. If we were holding such an invocation today it would include others, such as Islamic and an Amah Mutsun Tribal Band
As noted in the chart above and similar to all the current "conservative" Justices, Justice "California-does-not-count" Scalia was raised a Catholic in New York City, attended Xavier High School, a Jesuit (Catholic) military school in Manhattan. He earned his bachelor of arts degree at Georgetown University, also a Jesuit school, and attended Harvard Law School. Classmate and future New York State official William Stern remembered Scalia in his high school days: "This kid was a conservative when he was 17 years old. An archconservative Catholic. He could have been a member of the Curia. He was the top student in the class. He was brilliant, way above everybody else."
Scalia died in February 2016. But that comment "he could have been a member of the Curia" is troubling on many levels as I believe that it reflects a level of truth about the four "Conservative Justices" listed on the chart above who will remain after the retirement of Justice Kennedy.
Am I paranoid to think there is a real threat of Christian theonomist rule through the Court? Or are my concerns valid?
California now finds itself under a Union government based on minority rule, but it is more like Scalia said: "California does not count."
One of the more misleading 2016 election facts is frequently repeated in the press. And now with the resignation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy it is being repeated again. For instance, New York Magazine tells us
Democrats have won the national vote in six of the last seven presidential elections, which, with the retirement of Anthony Kennedy, will have resulted in the appointment of eight of the Supreme Court’s nine justices. And yet four of those justices will have been appointed by presidents who took office despite having fewer votes than their opponent.
The House has a massive Republican tilt, requiring Democrats to win the national vote by six or seven points in order to secure a likely majority. The Senate has an even more pronounced tilt, overrepresenting residents of small states, which tend to be white and rural.
Factually the Union has never been a democracy so it shouldn't surprise anyone that:
- Donald Trump won the Presidency by winning the Electoral College even though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a substantial margin;
- Republicans won a substantial majority in the House of Representatives even though Democrats received the majority of the popular vote cast for House candidates; and
- U.S. Senators were not even elected until the 20th Century and the Senate was never intended to reflect the will of the voters nationally.
But there is also another set of facts.
- Without counting California votes, Donald Trump won the popular vote in the 2016 Presidential Election.
- Without counting California votes, the Republicans won the popular vote cast in the 2016 House elections.
It is no small irony that Justice Kennedy, a Californian appointed to the Court by President and Former California Governor Ronald Reagan, while on the Supreme Court usually voted far more conservatively than would be accepted in California.
Only about a third of California voters vote Republican. That reflects California's substantive cultural differences with the red states. We need to consider the following maps:
The map above indicates which political party controls the state legislature, with the blue states controlled by Democrats. This map would seem to belie the quote above when it says: "Democrats have won the national vote in six of the last seven presidential elections." These United States, after all, is not a country, nation, or state, but a Union of diverse states as explained here in Why factually these United States is a more perfect Union, not a country, nation, or state
But diversity is one thing. This was the map of the Union that immediately preceded Obergefell v. Hodges
Is there anything about this map that looks similar to the maps above? Considering all of the maps above, would this map surprise anyone:
While I have no problem with these folks trying to alter the behavior of individuals through persuasion (free speech), what they have accomplished within those states is imposing their beliefs about individual behavior on everyone through the law. And what now seems possible is that they could succeed in altering the Wilfred Cantwell Smith phrase "what theology is for the Christian, law is for the Muslim" to "what should be Christian theology has become judicially imposed law within these United States."
Lest you think I'm overstating the situation, consider this. Chief Justice Roberts stated: "Many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of
faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is—unlike the right
imagined by the majority—actually spelled out in the Constitution." Justice Thomas wrote: "The First Amendment enshrined protection for the free exercise of religion in the U. S. Constitution."
Those statements are simply a lie. The First Amendment states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The key word there is "Congress." At the time of the adoption of the First Amendment, several states had state "established" religions and had laws the favored one religion over another. Other states had laws protecting religious practices ...well, Christian religious practices.
The difficulty in challenging the belief structure of the Court's majority has its foundation in cat videos. Odds are the people today who in the future might find themselves in the same disadvantaged position others did before Roe
likely can tell you about YouTube videos in great detail. They just couldn't provide any hint of understanding regarding the fact that Abrahamic religions are one of the major divisions in comparative religion, along with Indian religions, Iranian religions, East Asian religions, African religions, American religions, Oceanic religions, and classical Hellenistic religions.
The fact is the majority of Americans upon seeing the man pictured to the left would absolutely assume he is a Muslim. In fact, his "freedom to exercise religion" initially was prohibited by the U.S. Postal Service (see news release
Despite the fact that turban wearing bearded members of the Sikh faith have been a significant element in the British and Indian armies - by the beginning of World War I Sikhs in the British Indian Army totaled 20 percent of the force and by 1945 fourteen Victoria Crosses were awarded to Sikhs, a per-capita regimental record - the good Christian United States military defending our "free exercise" of religion until 2017 would not permit them to serve wearing the turban and beard offering up all sorts of reasons belied by the obvious British/Indian history. And then consider this news story
Sikhism was founded in the 16th century by Guru Nanak in Punjab, an area that is now divided between India and Pakistan. Nanak rejected the rituals involved with other South Asian religions and stressed the importance of good deeds such as serving others and treating all people equally.
The monotheistic religion has more than 25 million followers worldwide and about 500,000 in the United States. Yet a majority of Americans -- 60% -- admitted in a 2015 survey that they knew nothing at all about Sikhs.
Lawyer and activist Valarie Kaur says the threat of violence seems to have become mainstreamed.
Her grandfather settled in California a century ago, and she knows firsthand from her family that discrimination against Sikhs existed long before 2001. But 9/11, she says, was a paradigm shift, a turning point.
She used to talk about living in the "shadow of 9/11." Then the shadow turned out to be long, and what seemed temporary became permanent.
There are between 500,000 and 700,000 Sikhs in the United States, roughly half of them in California. Of course, the beloved Conservative Catholic Justice Scalia made it clear - California does not count.
I must now digress a bit. Being a Northern Californian I did work with a Sikh I considered a friend who was of my generation. Of course, he was a Californian, so his father was Sikh, his mother of Mexican descent, and he was married to a white woman. He was born and raised in the southern-most part of California where he attended a segregated public school (yes, like the rest of the country California has a past bloated with bigotry) and was a beneficiary of Mendez v. Westminster
which is part of Scalia's California does not count.
In 1947 a federal circuit court in California ruled that segregation of school children was unconstitutional—except this case involved the segregation of Mexican American school children years before the U.S. Supreme Court ended racial segregation in U.S. schools with Brown v. Board of Education
The infamous Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reached this historic decision. The Ninth Circuit is generally hated by the right in the United States for its far reaching consistent view that the most important right of all Americans is to be treated equally by other Americans in "the town square."
Historic in its own right, Mendez
was critical to the strategic choices and legal analysis used in arguing Brown and in shaping the ideas of a young NAACP attorney, Thurgood Marshall. Moreover, the Mendez
case—which originated with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) but benefited from the participation of the NAACP—also symbolized the important crossover between different ethnic and racial groups who came together to argue in favor of desegregation.
But then again, California does not count, so the Mendez
case is not taught in Kansas schools so let's return to the subject at hand.
Sikhism is one of the largest organized religions in the world, with 20 million members living in India and 27 million worldwide. But it is not among the Abrahamic religions that claim descent from the practices of the ancient Israelites and the worship of the God of Abraham, the largest of which are (in alphabetical order) Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. These religions have a long history of violence, so much so that the Wikipedia entry has a section headed Violent conflicts
with subsection headings Between Abrahamic religions
, Between branches of the same Abrahamic religion
, and Between Abrahamic religions and non-adherents
. This is religion as embraced in American history and law.
I may be paranoid, but...
Some may want to accuse me of paranoia and/or, as they did to Diane Feinstein, accuse me of religious bigotry. But I'm an old Californian whose high school graduation included a non-mandatory separate invocation event where a Buddhist priest led part of the ceremony. I'm an old Californian who had a Sikh friend. I am an old Californian who had friends in high school who because of their racial heritage were born in American concentration camps. I am an old Californian who had friends in high school whose American-born parents and grandparents were subjected to the so-called Mexican Repatriation and whose grand-children are now subjected to an out-of-control Trump immigration policy. I'm an old Californian who does not accept what the Union has become in the 21st Century.
Perhaps I'm paranoid, but just maybe I have a reason to fear the rise of "A Handmaid's Tale" theonomist judiciary regardless of which of the possible nominees for replacement of Justice Kennedy is selected. And that is because of the majority of the people living in the states on the map below do not even know that the "Star Spangled Banner" was written by an avid advocate of slavery and has a verse attacking escaped slaves:
Scroll up to compare this map with maps indicating the related facts - not that facts matter. And God forbid in this country, which according to a sitting Supreme Court Justice "enshrined protection for the free exercise of religion," we would have a mandatory 8th Grade course on comparative religions so we know what religion is and that it includes Islam and Zoroastrianism (one of the world's oldest extant monotheistic religions which enters recorded history in the 5th-century BCE and is practiced by about 11,000 people in the United States and many facets of which are incorporated into Christianity and Islam).
Or does the makeup of the Court itself and the map above together tell us which religions were actually enshrined and which are just tolerated. And which American citizens are deserving of legal protections?
Somewhat to my surprise President Trump nominated Bret Kavanaugh to replace Justice Kennedy.
As explained above in the original post, some of us think that which religion one was raised in can influence what one believes is right and wrong, one's values are influenced by grade school and high school experiences, adults make judgements based upon their associations with their college professors and fellow university students, as much as they do based on which books they read.
It is very troubling that Kavanaugh's life as can be seen on the chart above adding to the chart in the original post, reads like five of the eight current Supreme Court Justices who were raised Roman Catholic, four of the eight who attended parochial schools, and eight of eight none of whom attended a state institution of higher learning at any time in their college education.
It isn't comforting that Kavanaugh is a regular lector (reader) at his Washington, D.C. church, the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
According to The Lector at Mass - United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
this carefully constrained role is:
In the procession to the altar, in the absence of a Deacon, the reader, wearing approved attire [see GIRM, no. 339], may carry the Book of the Gospels, slightly elevated. In that case, the reader walks in front of the Priest but otherwise walks along with the other ministers.
Upon reaching the altar, the reader makes a profound bow with the others [see also GIRM, no. 274]. If he is carrying the Book of the Gospels, he approaches the altar and places the Book of the Gospels upon it. Then the reader takes his own place in the sanctuary with the other ministers. (GIRM, nos. 194-195)
The reader reads from the ambo the readings that precede the Gospel. In the absence of a psalmist, the reader may also proclaim the Responsorial Psalm after the First Reading.
In the absence of a Deacon, the reader, after the introduction by the Priest, may announce the intentions of the Universal Prayer from the ambo.
If there is no singing at the Entrance or at Communion and the antiphons given in the Missal are not recited by the faithful, the reader may read them at an appropriate time (cf. nos. 48, 87). (GIRM, nos. 196-198)
At the conclusion of the Mass, the lector does not process with the Book of the Gospels. The Lectionary is never carried in procession. The lector may join in the procession at the end of Mass in the same order as in the procession to the altar.
Nor is it comforting that Kavanaugh has tutored at the Washington Jesuit Academy, a Catholic private school in the District of Columbia.
In stark contrast, outgoing Justice Kennedy who Kavanaugh clerked for and would replace has been active off the bench as well, calling for reform of overcrowded American prisons in a speech before the American Bar Association. He spends his summers in Salzburg, Austria, where he teaches international and American law at the University of Salzburg for the McGeorge School of Law of the University of the Pacific (founded in 1851 with a Methodist affiliation) and often attends the large yearly international judges conference held there.
Defending his use of international law, in 2005 Kennedy told The New Yorker staff writer Jeffrey Toobin, "Why should world opinion care that the American Administration wants to bring freedom to oppressed peoples? Is that not because there's some underlying common mutual interest, some underlying common shared idea, some underlying common shared aspiration, underlying unified concept of what human dignity means? I think that's what we're trying to tell the rest of the world, anyway."
Not since Episcopalian
David Souter has anyone been on the Court who was not raised in Catholicism or Judaism.
Besides the heavy dose of Catholic upbringing represented on the Court, I have one other problem with this Court. Since the Supreme Court was established in 1789, 113 persons have served on the Court. Of the first 100, 40 had no prior judicial experience. A complete list is below, but the 40 include Earl Warren, William O. Douglas, Felix Frankfurter, and Louis Brandeis, just to name a few whose name some Americans might recognize.
No one appearing on this list has been seated on the Supreme Court since 1972 even though the role of the Supreme Court is radically different than that of a judge.