Guest / Limited Access /

Justice John Paul Stevens, described in media reports as the last remaining Protestant on the Supreme Court, announced Friday that he would retire.

In 2006, the court began to have a Catholic majority. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito tend to fall on the conservative side of the court compared to fellow Catholic Justices Sonya Sotomayor and Anthony Kennedy. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer are Jewish.

"If religion is a factor, it's not going to be in the top five by any means," said Carl Esbeck, a law professor at the University of Missouri. "That said, one's religious faith or absence thereof says a lot about your worldview, which affects your work. You want a variety of worldviews on the court."

Non-evangelicals have done much of the heavy hitting for evangelicals in the law, said Notre Dame history professor Mark Noll. "Witness intense evangelical support for the George W. Bush Catholic nominees to the Supreme Court," Noll said.

Institutions historically founded by Protestants have well-regarded law schools, such as Northwestern, Duke, Vanderbilt, and Emory.

"But how much Protestantism is left in those law schools? Catholics have law schools ranked in the top 30: Boston College, Georgetown, and Notre Dame, where something distinctively Catholic remains in each one," Noll said. "Clearly, the day when the higher levels of American public life were reflexively Protestant, near-Protestant, or humanistic with a Protestant tinge are past."

Christian groups often voice concern on how the high court could rule on cases related to abortion or religious freedom.

"For those who care about religious freedom, you want a fair number of justices to understand religion," ...

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

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

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedHouston Mayor Drops Pastor Subpoenas
Houston Mayor Drops Pastor Subpoenas
National debate over religious freedom prompts withdrawal.
TrendingNew Poll Finds Evangelicals’ Favorite Heresies
New Poll Finds Evangelicals’ Favorite Heresies
Survey finds many American evangelicals hold unorthodox views on the Trinity, salvation, and other doctrines.
Editor's PickMark Labberton: This Is the Best of Times for Following Jesus
Mark Labberton: This Is the Best of Times for Following Jesus
The Fuller Seminary president sees the church’s moment of cultural exile as a moment of incredible opportunity.
Comments
Christianity Today
The Post-Protestant Supreme Court
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

April 2010

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