Guest / Limited Access /

After President Bush nominated Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, Sweet Briar College's Barbara Perry told The New York Times, "This would add a whole new meaning to the Catholic rite of confirmation." She was joking about the likelihood of a Catholic majority on the Court.

That majority would be notable, considering Samuel Alito would be only the 12th Catholic in the Court's 110-justice history. But "the most remarkable thing about it is that it's unremarkable," Catholic University's Dennis Coyle told The Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey. "That says something about how mainstream Catholicism has become in intellectual and legal circles."

"The religion factor no longer matters," Perry says. But for some it still does. Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, complained that a Catholic majority would "underrepresent other religions, not to mention nonbelievers."

Such comments are thankfully rare. Most pundits and politicians are wary of the Constitution's ban on a "religious test for office."

It's not as if the Catholic majority "is going to put any papal encyclicals into American law," says an editorial in the Sharon (Mass.) Advocate. "But if such fears exist, the Roman Catholic Church is doing nothing to calm them." Bishops who threaten to withhold Communion from pro-choice lawmakers are only instituting their own "religious test" for office, the paper said.

If the bishops do not similarly warn Catholic judges, Amy Sullivan wrote for Beliefnet, they "reveal their policy for dealing with Catholic public officials for what it is—a political, partisan tactic."

But if a judge "were to act in a way that he would reach decisions on the basis of Catholic teaching, that in itself would be a violation of Catholic ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only How the Kingdom Comes
The church becomes countercultural by sinking its roots ever deeper into God's heavenly gifts.
RecommendedMormons and Christians: So Close, Yet So Far Away
Mormons and Christians: So Close, Yet So Far Away
What should we make of claims that the two faiths are on a path to reconciling?
TrendingOld Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
Old Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
What a culture of death tells us about a culture of life.
Editor's PickHow Science Became a Weapon in the Mommy Wars
How Science Became a Weapon in the Mommy Wars
Peer-reviewed research intensifies parenting debates… and can leave us even more confused.
Christianity Today
Time to Get Judicially Serious
hide thisJanuary January

In the Magazine

January 2006

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.