Is Sonia Sotomayor Catholic? UPDATE: Yes

posted by David Gibson

Obama & Sotomayor.jpgSteve Waldman has White House confirmation. But an administration official later elbaorated:

“Judge Sotomayor was raised as a Catholic and attends church for family celebrations and other important events.”

Sotomayor also served with Jesuit Father Joseph O’Hare, the retired president of Fordham University, on a New York City campaign finance review council, and O’Hare told CNS that when he knew her beginning in the late 1980s “she was indeed a practicing Catholic. He said he has no reason to think that has changed. They have stayed in touch intermittently, and he said she gave his name as a reference for her FBI background check.”

Whatever the case, that makes Catholics six for nine of the high court. The five current Catholic justices are already an all-time high. Anyone want to go for a sweep?

First question: Does it matter?

Second, the (awful) question will now be, what KIND of Catholic is she? She is divorced, without kids. Heck, she may want to downplay her practice of the faith as that will be a huge target–and it’s easy to guess who’ll be lobbing most of the heavy ordinance.

Sotomayor was born in the Bronx (cheers!) to parents from Puerto Rico, and she attended Catholic schools. From a May 14 New York Times profile:

Judge Sotomayor, 54, grew up in a Bronx housing project, a child of Puerto Rican parents. She would be the court’s first Hispanic justice.

Her father died when she was 9, leaving her mother to raise her and a brother. In speeches to Latino groups over the years, Judge Sotomayor has recalled how her mother worked six days a week as a nurse to send her and her brother to Catholic school, purchased the only set of encyclopedias in the neighborhood and kept a warm pot of rice and beans on the stove every day for their friends.

She loved Nancy Drew mysteries, she once said, and yearned to be a police detective. But a doctor who diagnosed her childhood diabetes suggested that would be difficult. She traded her adoration of Nancy for an allegiance to Perry — she became a fan of Perry Mason on television, she said, and decided to become a lawyer.

She went to Princeton, which she has described as a life-changing experience. When she arrived on campus from the Bronx, she said it was like “a visitor landing in an alien country.” She never raised her hand in her first year there. “I was too embarrassed and too intimidated to ask questions,” Judge Sotomayor said.

But as a federal appeals court judge, she has issued few rulings on issues like abortion. Steve also has several posts on her scant abortion-related rulings.

A Washington Post profile today says that because she never had children of her own she feels like her clerks are her kids.

But back to the original question: Does it matter if she is Catholic, practicing or lapsed? There are Catholics and there are Catholics. Look at the US electorate, look at the Supreme Court itself. 

Antonin Scalia, who is seen as a favorite of a certain segment of conservative Catholicism, has been forthright in stating that he would never make decisions on the basis of his faith. As he said in an address at Villanova Law School in October 2007, parsed by Robert Miller et al at First Things:

“There is no such thing as a ‘Catholic judge.’ The bottom line is that the Catholic faith seems to me to have little effect on my work as a judge…Just as there is no ‘Catholic’ way to cook a hamburger, I am hard pressed to tell you of a single opinion of mine that would have come out differently if I were not Catholic.”


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David S. Horton

posted May 26, 2009 at 9:52 am

It doesn’t matter to me if judge Sotomayor is catholic or atheist. I would like to know if any supreme court justice has ever had type 1 diabetes. Perhaps she can give some perspective on discrimination against diabetics in employment. Perhaps she can open the eyes of people who deny that the U.S. military is the biggest perpetrator of this offense.

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posted May 26, 2009 at 10:48 am

As a fellow (albeit Type 2, though insulin-using) diabetic, I second David regarding judge Sotomayor.

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pat donlevy

posted May 26, 2009 at 10:52 am

One cannot be a practicing Catholic and be pro-choice..One contradicts the other …Our founding fathers said “in God we trust”. So it is here. Everything that Judge Sotomayer has is a gift from God. How can she make decisions that would be contrary to her faith and prepare herself for the hereafter.
May God guide her and may she be willing and open. thank you for this forum to speak.

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posted May 26, 2009 at 10:54 am

I don’t know what her religion currently is, but it sounds like she was probably raised Catholic. It would be pretty typical for a Latina to be from a Catholic background. Maybe she’s a lapsed Catholic or a Christmas and Easter Catholic or a recovering Catholic, but she’s still likely very familiar with Catholicism. As a Type 2 diabetic, I also find it pretty neat that she’s a diabetic. She should be a good role model for kids with illnesses.

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posted May 26, 2009 at 11:12 am

The separation of Church and state ought now be enshrined in Catholic
theo;ogy after the Irish horrors were revealed last week. If some bishop brings up the stupid idea that religion should have a role in picking people in government let him look as stupid as he would be.

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posted May 26, 2009 at 11:19 am

What is the range for life expectancy of a Type 1 diabetic? It is certainly much better for a diabetic who is following prescribed guidelines for control.

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Your Name

posted May 26, 2009 at 11:30 am

WARNING!!! A Catholic majority, vastly disproportionate to their percentage of the population, in the highest court of the world’s most powerful nation, is itself a miscarriage of justice. Don’t be fooled–though these judges may downplay their Catholicity, it is to Rome their ultimate loyalties lie. This is nothing less than a fulfillment of End-Time Prophecy. America is the second beast of Revelation 13, which shall cause the world to make an image to the first beast–Rome. “The Roman Church-State …has shown an affinity for civil governments that reflect its own totalitarian authoritarian structure, governments made in its own image” (Dr. J. Robbins, Ecclesiastical Megalomania). It is Church-State union that the Vatican seeks, and will soon fulfill in America; then worldwide. Next on the agenda is to legislate Catholic doctrine–The Mark of the Beast.

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posted May 26, 2009 at 11:48 am

She went to Cardinal Spellman HS in So Bronx.. ‘It’s not the end of the world’ that 6 catholics sit on the Court. I Hope some East Coast bishop keeps his mouth shut on how she will vote. Let’s leave that to know-nothing Reps.

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David Gibson

posted May 26, 2009 at 11:48 am

And “YourName”, would you like to put your REAL name to such rantings? It might show some courage behind your convictions…

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posted May 26, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Her assertion that interpreting the Constitution is religion-neutral only applies if she’s a strict constructionist, i.e. if she intends to interpret based solely on the text. As soon as she moves into the “living document” school of thought, she begins to bring her own beliefs as to what is fair and just into play. At that point, her religion and the degree to which she follows it are very relevant to her rulings.

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Your Name Evil Twin

posted May 26, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Your name posted “WARNING!!! A Catholic majority, vastly disproportionate to their percentage of the population, in the highest court of the world’s most powerful nation, is itself a miscarriage of justice. Don’t be fooled–though these judges may downplay their Catholicity, it is to Rome their ultimate loyalties lie. This is nothing less than a fulfillment of End-Time Prophecy. America is the second beast of Revelation 13, which shall cause the world to make an image to the first beast–Rome. “The Roman Church-State …has shown an affinity for civil governments that reflect its own totalitarian authoritarian structure, governments made in its own image” (Dr. J. Robbins, Ecclesiastical Megalomania). It is Church-State union that the Vatican seeks, and will soon fulfill in America; then worldwide. Next on the agenda is to legislate Catholic doctrine–The Mark of the Beast”
Huh? You my friend are very lost. I will be sure to pray for you.

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posted May 26, 2009 at 2:50 pm

KaYo: What is the range for life expectancy of a Type 1 diabetic?
I don’t know exact specifics, but while I assume it’s a little lower than average, Type 1 diabetics can still lead lives of normal length, given proper care and strict adherence to the appropriate course of treatment, diet, etc. Mary Tyler Moore, e.g., is Type 1 and is in her early 70’s.
I don’t think the number of Catholics on the court, per se, is significant. After all, for the first hundred-odd years of the Court all the justices were white male Protestants, and they were presumably fit to represent all the people. I realize the ins, outs, and complexities, but maybe one day we’ll be at a point where it won’t matter how many justices are male, female, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist, or whatever.
Your Name: You would have fit in quite well with the Know-Nothing party in the 1840’s–the same charmers who were noted for burning down Catholic church buildings and beating priests and nuns. Nice to know that type is still around (sarcasm!).

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Brother Wayne

posted May 26, 2009 at 3:50 pm

“Your Name” may be reluctant to reveal his/her identity, but what was written is biblically accurate. ALL of the great leaders of the Protestant Reformation correctly saw that the scriptures identified the Papacy as the first beast (kingdom or power) of Revelation 13 that comes up out of the sea, or densely populated area — this is not a new teaching. History records that the Papacy has forced worship throughout the Dark Ages.
The second beast, or power, in Revelation 13 comes up out of the earth, or sparsely populated area, has two horns like a lamb (Christian principles, including separation of church and state), no crown (no king), yet will speak as a dragon (will enact laws forcing worship). The second beast will make an image to, or look like, the first beast by virtue of forced worship, using economics as the initial motivator, then death:
Revelation 13:15-17
15And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
16And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
17And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Please, these words are not meant to be offensive to any person. I have relatives who are Catholic and I love them dearly — and I love my country. But bible prophecy is meant to warn us of the organizations and powers that will act contrary to God’s way, which is to worship Him out of love, not forced submission.
May the Holy Spirit and the Word of God be your guide. I would be glad to discuss biblical topics. Contact me at brotherwayne65@gmail.com.
Blessings in Jesus,
Brother Wayne

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Your Name

posted May 26, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Your name. So you are a prophet? Well, study your history of the Church and the Bible before you spout off. It is Christians against Christians that help the devil. I am catholic and I pray with all christians.
Get with it . You do not help solve problems by trying to divide a house.
I pray for you too.

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Mary T

posted May 26, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Your Name Evil Twin: your subjective interpretation of the Book of Revelation is a supreme example of why there are no fundamentalists on the Supreme Court. Catholics are trained in the law, because, as St. Paul says, it is written on every heart. Bringing common sense and natural criteria to bear, natural law is not itself all it takes to have a great legal mind, but it sure helps. The Catholic Church had a tremendous influence on the making of the law of western civilization and even the Inquistion, according to Professor E. Peters of the University of Penn. had a positive influence on it, not withstanding the Black Legend which totally misrepresented what happened and influenced its historical misunderstanding even until now.

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Your Name

posted May 26, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Belief or not, I have a problem when judges laugh when they say policy is made in the courts.
Check the constitution, this is not the role of the court.

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Hart Williams

posted May 26, 2009 at 4:46 pm

“and it’s easy to guess who’ll be lobbing most of the heavy ordinance.”
Great pun if that was what was intended. Otherwise, it’s “ordnance.”
Middle English ordinaunce, from Anglo-French ordenance disposition, preparation, military provisions — more at ordinance
14th century
1 a: military supplies including weapons, ammunition, combat vehicles, and maintenance tools and equipment b: a service of the army charged with the procuring, distributing, and safekeeping of ordnance2: cannon, artillery
The political problem here is tough: there can be no religious test for office (Constitution) but the real problem is that in a Catholic “super-majority” there will be tremendous religious pressure placed on the justices themselves on hot-button issues like abortion, euthanasia, stem-cell research, etc. BY their own faith.
That’s a rough position to put a practitioner of any faith in. Especially with a denomination that has a long track record of political machination that is still openly embraced. (Witness the recent Notre Dame protests, or the Pope’s recent condom comments in Africa).
Worse, the current wave of anti-immigrant frenzy (there have been several, like the “Know Nothings” of the antebellum, and the SECOND incarnation of the KKK in the 1920s) has been aimed at “Mexicans” (50% of illegals are NOT Hispanic), the majority of which are Catholic. The most egregious haters won’t differentiate between the ethnic stereotype and the faith, sad to say. (Nuance tends to be lost on them.)
(You know, like the term “Hispanic” — about to be bandied about — when Southwestern Hispanics have virtually nothing in common with New York City Hispanics, specifically Puerto Ricans. A meaningless stereotype.)
Without a doubt there *will* be some virulent anti-Catholicism. The question is how much? It’s a tough call, but — and here’s the point — I’d prefer that we weren’t all placed in this position in the first place, INCLUDING our sitting Catholic justices.
It won’t go under the radar that the current 5-Catholic majority tends to VOTE as a majority in controversial cases.

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Winnie W.

posted May 26, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Theologians and Bibical scholars are mostly in agreement that Revelations was written about the past, not the future. Some Bibical scholars discount Revelations altogether – text written by a 90 year old approaching senility.

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Frank Clyburn

posted May 26, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Well, I don’t much think it matters whether this candidate for Supreme Court Justice is a woman, Catholic, or even a judge. What matters is will she uphold the Constitution of the United States…..from what I read about her record as a judge, it’s doubtful.

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Little Bear

posted May 26, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Lordy, Lordy! From diabetes to the Book of Revelation—we’ve been all over the board with Sotomayor. I believe that we should give her the opportunity to speak for herself at the nomenation hearings. Only then, will all have an idea of how she sees herself as a chief justice—and get a glimpse of how she might interact with the other justices.
Whether she is a practicing Catholic or a CAPE(Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Easter) Catholic—one cannot go through Catholic grade and high school—without something of Catholicism rubbing off. And one cannot grow up Latino Catholic and not have it demonstrated. I say—give the lady a chance!

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posted May 26, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Wow! Settle down people. Revelations? Seriously? Could it instead be grace? I don’t know but I am willing to entertain that aspect for a while.

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Jim McCrea

posted May 26, 2009 at 7:00 pm

From what I have seen of the rest of the “Catholic” members of SCOTUS, we need to be protected in the future therefrom.
There are enough RCs on the Court now. How about an atheist or agnostic for a change?
Yes, I’m a Catholic of the very selective type.

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Don Fitch

posted May 26, 2009 at 11:55 pm

Scalia does not have the personal insight to see how his decisions are compelled by Catholic dogma. In every decision he is quick to assert executive authority and dismiss personal rights, mirroring the hierarchical, top heavy structure of the Catholic church.
Scalia’s Supreme Court decisions are scarcely less influenced by his life-long Catholicism than are the opinions of Catholic League president Bill Donohue. The opinions of the two men don’t differ at all.
With Sotomayor, it will be 6 Catholics on the court, although she seems less dogmatic. The other good Catholic boys Roberts, Alito and Thomas nearly always mirror Antonin’s ultra-right rulings.

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Your Name

posted May 27, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Folks, I hope that the readers of this blog are smart enough to realize that we can’t reconize anyone as a member of any group if they don’t abide by the rules of that given organization.
The Catholic church does not allow divorce, requires that its members attend Mass every Sunday and forbids abortion along with a list of other requirements.
If any or all of the “Catholic” Supreme Court judges do not practice their faith then they should drop this label rather than be identified as a “dysfunctional” Catholic that are destined to go to Hell.

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Your Name

posted May 27, 2009 at 3:48 pm

Divorce is OK in the Catholic Church. Remarriage after divorce is prohibited!

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Your Name

posted May 28, 2009 at 10:29 am

If our decisions are not guided by our faith, what are they guided by? The common good? If so, how do you define that? How were the laws of this land determined in the first place if they were not guided by the faith beliefs of the founding Fathers. Judge Scalia surely must realize that his Catholic faith does inform him in his day to day decisions just as the rest of us are guided by our faith. Through these beliefs, we understand what is right and what is wrong.

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Your Name

posted June 4, 2009 at 7:40 am

Someone needs some fresh lessons in human interaction and decision-making. We are all influenced by our experiences, and our decisions are heavily inflenced by our filters. Those filters are created by what we are and experienced unique to that, i.e., Jewish, rich, urban, white, male, female, married, etc. To say that being Catholic has no effect on decisions is like saying being a male or being white has no effect on those decisions.
That is a ludicrous position, and wholy untenable. How we read things, including the law, is influenced by who we are, which in turn is influenced as I have indicated previously. Understanding we have those filters and trying to account for them is the best we can do, but to say that I, as a Catholic white male can see things objectively the same way as a Jewish white female is a highly suspect position.

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Dwight Turner

posted July 14, 2009 at 8:37 pm

The Catholic Church is pushing for a national Sunday law in America. If such a law is passed, will Sotomayor and the other Catholics on the Supreme Court vote in favor of such a law? If they do, this country will be plunged into religious persecution of any who oppose a religious law that takes away their freedom of conscience.

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