Another Jewish Supreme Court possibility - and rising talk about a "Protestant-free" court
04/14/2010 - 15:41
James Besser

So another Jewish name has surfaced in the raging speculation over President Obama's choice to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens: Martha Minow, dean of the Harvard Law School and one of the President's former professors (See this story in today's Boston Globe) 

Minow, daughter of former FCC chair Newton Minow (who coined the term “Vast Wastland” about television programming – maybe apter today than it was in 1961), joins Solicitor General Elena Kagan and Judge Merrick Garland of the Federal Appeals Court in Washington, both Jewish, as a subject of Supreme Court speculation.

Meanwhile, the Internet is seething with blogs and articles about the fact that Stevens is the only Protestant on the high court – and many of the top candidates to replace him are Jewish or Catholic.

Christianity today has a story on “The Post-Protestant Supreme Court.” 

An opinion writer in the LA times offers this provocative headline: “No Protestant Need Apply.” 

Geoffrey R. Stone, writing in the Huffington Post, argues that Protestants have historically been overrepresented on the Court - as have Jews and Catholics in recent years. Why not an “openly-gay individual, a non-religious person, an Asian-American, or a Muslim,” he asks – assuming he or she has the proper temperament and qualifications?

My guess is that Obama is first and foremost looking for a candidate with unimpeachable qualifications, a clean personal history and a centrism that will ease what will be a difficult confirmation battle no matter what. Religion will be secondary.

But I can't help but wonder if he will take a look at all that's been written about a Protestant-free Supreme Court and how his political enemies will make use of that in the next election, and then make an extra effort to make sure that doesn't happen.


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Regarding the possibility of Elena Kagan as the Supreme Court nominee: She would be the third woman originally from the New York City area, and the second Jewish woman. This does not add much to diversity on the court. Furthermore, she would be the second childless woman on the court. One might recall the Jewish tradition regarding high judges. To quote "Why the Jews?: The Reason for Antisemitism" by Dennis Prager and Rabbi Joseph Telushkin: A man (sic) could not be a high priest unless he was married, nor a member of the jewish high court unless he (sic) had children, it being the Jewish sages’ belief`that raising children humbled, humanized, and increased a judge`s wisdom.