Monday, October 31, 2005
Catholics and the Court
Picking up on Rick's note that Alito would make five Catholics on the Court, on most issues it looks as if Alito would be as conservative as Scalia or Thomas. For example, he famously authored the opinion holding the Family Medical Leave Act unconstitutional, which was reversed by the Supreme Court in an opinion by Chief Justice Rehnquist (with Kennedy, Scalia, and Thomas dissenting). It is worth noting, then, that, if Alito is confirmed, the five Catholics on the Court would also happen to be its most conservative five members (Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas, plus Alito).
This is an interesting phenomenon. After all, it was not long ago that one of the most liberal members of the Court, William Brennan, was a Catholic. And Catholic voters long made up an important part of the New Deal coalition. While Catholics have no doubt grown more comfortable voting for Republicans over the past few decades, it would be hard to argue that the (potentially) five Catholic justices would be representative of the politics of Catholics as a whole.