At least one member of the country’s highest court is a little miffed at all the attention being paid to the court’s Catholic majority.
From the AP:
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito voiced frustration Tuesday over what he called persistent questions about the court’s Roman Catholic majority.
Alito aired the topic in a speech to an Italian-American law group in Philadelphia.
“There has been so much talk lately about the number of Catholics serving on the Supreme Court,” Alito said in a speech to the Justinian Society. “This is one of those questions that does not die.”
Alito complained about “respectable people who have seriously raised the questions in serious publications about whether these individuals could be trusted to do their jobs.”
He said he thought the Constitution settled the question long ago with its guarantee of religious freedom.
Alito, 59, the son of an Italian immigrant, is one of six justices on the nine-member court who were raised Catholic, including new Justice Sonia Sotomayor. A dozen of the 111 jurists in the court’s history have been Catholic.
The Roman Catholic Church endorses positions on several high-profile legal issues, including abortion, the death penalty and gay marriage. Some commentators have argued that Catholics in the court’s conservative voting bloc — Chief John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Alito — are likely to oppose abortion or otherwise apply Catholic teachings to their rulings.
In a telephone interview, Notre Dame law professor Richard W. Garnett echoed Alito’s comment that the religion of qualified justices will not determine their views of pending cases, even if their experiences might shade it.
“It’s not the calling of a Catholic judge to enforce the teachings of the faith. It’s the calling of a Catholic judge, as well as he or she can, to interpret and apply the laws of the political community,” Garnett said.
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