SCOTUS: 6 Catholics, 3 Jews, Law, Scholasticism and Tradition
I read a comment a few weeks ago on GetReligion.org attempting to explain why John Paul Stevens was the last Protestant in the U.S. Supreme Court which simply said that Catholics and Jews have a tradition of being immersed in law (Canon Law and Halakha respectively for Catholics and Jews as an example).
This struck me as interesting because at first glance it kind of makes sense.
Of course there is much more to why the current make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court, 6 Catholics, 2 Jews, and an Episcopalian, is as it is.
But I thought it was an interesting enough topic to dive into.
Lisa Wangsness of the Boston Globe chimes in with her two cents worth [emphases mine]:
Evangelical Protestants have been slow to embrace, or to feel welcomed by, the elite law schools like Harvard and Yale that have become a veritable requirement for Supreme Court nominees. One reason for this, some scholars say, is because of an anti-intellectual strain within evangelicalism.
As Ronald Reagan would say, there you go again, pushing the liberal theory that Christians are stupid (at least Evangelical Protestants).
Lets get beyond these stereotypes done by liberals to Christians.
Catholics do have Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the living Magisterium along with a very long and distinguished history of scholasticism in nearly all subjects. In addition we have had our ecumenical councils where theologians, professors, and historians would engage in debate and dialogue to affirm Church teaching by pouring over ancient manuscripts and other evidence. These ecumenical councils issued documents spawned from the direction of the Holy Spirit their exegesis. The most recent being those documents from Vatican II.
Not to mention Catholic colleges, seminaries, and thousands of study groups that dot the country arguing over the hermeneutics of these ancient manuscripts and conciliar documents.
But does this explain the high propensity of Catholics and Jews up for nomination for judicial appointments?
Protestants do have their colleges, seminaries, and Bible study groups, similar to those of Catholics.
One theory that is bandied about is that because Evangelical Protestants believe in the personal interpretation of the Bible, ie, sola scriptura, any documents, books, and treatises that have been issued in the past are of no consequence since sola scriptura pretty much leaves no room for tradition or an accumulation of knowledge to be drawn from.
Bear in mind that I am just brainstorming and wanting to see if a discussion can start in helping explain the reasons for the lack of Protestants in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Let’s not forget our elder brothers the Jews.
The Halakha is the collective body of Jewish religious law that contains everything from the 613 mitzvot to the present Talmudic Law. From the old Sanhedrin to today’s yeshiva’s, Jews have had a long history of scholasticism, especially in law (literally from the beginning of time).
Now there is a reason why Catholics and Jews are similar and that is because Catholics inherited Jewish customs and tradition. Where Catholics and Jews begin to diverge was during the Council of Jerusalem in A.D. 49.
Another example of these similarities is the Chair of Moses, which was destroyed in A.D. 70, was inherited by Saint Peter, the first pope of Rome, called the Chair of Peter or cathedra. Hence the long unbroken tradition of law from the beginning of time to Noahide Laws then with Mosaic Law and finally with the Holy Bible and all subsequent ecumenical councils.
So what do you all think?
 Can’t find that comment, though I did read it.
 Ironic that people got all hot and bothered when the fourth and fifth nominees for the SCOTUS were Catholic’s thus over-representing Catholics in the Judicial branch. But somehow the secularists are excited that the current nominee, Elena Kagan, a Jew, would make SCOTUS 1/3 Jewish. But that’s another story for another post.
 For the Catholic view on sola scriptura go here.