In opening yesterday's Judiciary Committee hearings on Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court, Chairman Pat Leahy (D., Vt.) alluded to the religious prejudice that has too often intruded on the process.
The first Jewish nominee, he noted, had to answer "questions about the Jewish mind and how its operations are complicated by altruism." The first Catholic nominee, he added, "had to overcome the argument that, as a Catholic, he'd be dominated by the pope."
"We are," Sen. Leahy declared, "in a different era."
Maybe. It's true that if Ms. Sotomayor is confirmed there will be six Catholics on the Court -- a higher percentage than almost any Notre Dame starting lineup of the past three decades. It's also true that notwithstanding a few scattered references to this fact, for the most part the judge's religion has been greeted, as a USA Today headline put it, with a "yawn."
How different from just a few years ago. Back when the nominee was Sam Alito, talk was about the "fifth Catholic" on the bench. Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, complained that "with Alito, the majority of the Court would be Roman Catholics."
Before that it was John Roberts. In the run-up to his confirmation, the Los Angeles Times ran a piece headlined "Wife of Nominee Holds Strong Antiabortion Views." Though the article conceded that a "spouse's views normally are not considered relevant in weighing someone's job suitability," plainly these were not normal times. Mrs. Roberts, the paper pointed out, had worked for a group called "Feminists for Life," and was characterized as an "extremely, extremely devout Catholic."
....continue reading The Catholic Double Standard - Why was Samuel Alito's Catholicism so much more discussed than Sonia Sotomayor's? at the Wall Stree Journal
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