Catholic Pandemic on Highest Court
If Samuel A. Alito, Jr. passes muster to sit on United States Supreme Court he will tip the judicial balance, big time. The conservative New Jersey judge will put Roman Catholics over the top, giving them five of the nine seats on our nation’s highest court.
The potential for such a wholly (and holy) surprising majority has added new meaning to the heretofore secular “confirmation” process. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has denied widespread speculation that the non-denominational prayer that opens Supreme Court sessions would be replaced by Communion. And when has Scott ever steered us wrong?
Still, I must confess, as a recovering Catholic, I’m concerned. Once upon a time — well before affirmative action and those good-for-nothing quotas — there was a “Catholic seat” on the high court. There also was one reserved for a Jewish jurist (try saying that ten times really fast). Those were the halcyon, non-extreme days, weren’t they? Compounding the current religious imbalance on the court, two of the remaining non-Catholic justices are Jewish – twice their usual quot…I mean historical representation. [This diatribe was published in 2004: by 2016 there were six Catholic and three Jewish justices until Anton Scalia died.]
Assuming Alito is confirmed (look for white smoke wafting above the Capitol), that will leave precious little representation on the court for the rest of the America’s 95,933 religions: your Seventh-day Adventists, your Wiccans, your Christian Scientists, your Muslims – wow, hold it right there, pal, you say.
I hear you. If these nine predominantly geriatrics judges had to point themselves East and kneel down and pray five times a day, they’d never get around to overturning the no good, lefty laws of the past 100 years. I can hear them now crying out in harmony, “I’m praying but I can’t get up!”
And what about, dare I mention them, non-believers — your atheists and agnostics? Is there a place for them in our theocracy — oops, typo, sorry, I mean democracy? All right, let’s get off this religious merry-go-round, shall we. I think five out of nine of anything is inherently suspect. What if most of the judges were extreme skateboarders? After all, President Bush was all fired up, for a week anyway, about having non-jurists on the high court.
And what’s up with the prejudice against cronies and pot smokers making the cut? How long will they have to wait to take their rightful “seat” on the Supreme Court? Lyndon Johnson’s pal Abe Fortas was blackballed in 1968, and now President Bush can’t get his cheerleading lawyer Harriet Miers past the mean old right wing Senate.
In 1987 Douglas H. Ginsburg, Ronald Reagan’s choice for the court, had to withdraw after it was learned he had once smoked marijuana. He didn’t toke during the hearings, mind you, he had inhaled when he was in college during the 1960s, when it was essentially mandatory. Am I to understand that none of the current justices have ever smoked a dube or hooked up with a hookah?
But I digress. One crony, sure, no problem. But would you like to see five presidential suck-ups or five far out pot-heads having the last word on the “high” court.
At the same time, a little injection of youth wouldn’t hurt the mix. Our young people don’t vote, don’t read newspapers, couldn’t pick a Supreme Court Justice out of a lineup if he were wearing his robes. A “youth seat” might jump start an entire generation into getting involved. Besides, tell me “Associate Justice LL Cool J” doesn’t have a ring to it?
Here’s the scariest scenario of all: what if five justices go duck hunting with Dick Cheney, as Antonin Scalia did several years back? They fly on Air Force Two for four days of mayhem, then a few months later refuse to recuse themselves when a case involving the Vice President comes before the court. Then they all vote in Veep’s favor, just like Antonin did. Anyone see a problem with five duck-hunting junketeering justices, I mean, other than for the outgunned waterfowl?