Stone: The Protestant Seat on the Supreme Court

The Protestant Seat on the Supreme Court
Geoffrey Stone
The Huffington Post
April 11, 2010

With the announcement of the retirement of Justice Stevens, the question has arisen: Should President Obama nominate a Protestant to succeed him? Of the remaining justices, six are Catholic and two are Jewish. If President Obama does not nominate a Protestant, this will be the first time in American history when there will not be a Protestant on the Court. How should we think about this?

Since the founding, there have been 112 justices of the Supreme Court. Of these, 94% have been Christian, 83% have been Protestant, 11% have been Catholic, and 6% have been Jewish.

The U.S. population today is roughly 78% Christian, 51% Protestant, 24% Catholic, 16% non-religious, 2% Mormon, 2% Jewish, and 2% Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu combined.

This means that, relative to the current population, Christians, Protestants and Jews have been substantially overrepresented on the Court historically, whereas Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Buddhist, Hindus, and especially non-religious people have been substantially underrepresented on the Court.

Faculty: 
Geoffrey R. Stone