Why have no Evangelicals been on US Supreme Court? Christian magazine asks

(Credit: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States)U.S. Supreme Court as composed October 27, 2020 to present. Front row, left to right: Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer, and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Back row, left to right: Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, and Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was nominated last month to the U.S. Supreme Court and could give the country's apex body its first Black female and first nondenominational Protestant justice.,

Christianity Today, a nonprofit U.S. magazine that publishes daily observed that there has never been an evangelical judge on the Supreme Court, despite evangelicals making up a quarter of the U.S. population.

It asked a question that has been raised in the past: Why haven't there been any evangelicals on the Supreme Court?

Six of the current Supreme Court justices are Roman Catholics (Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, John Roberts, Sonia Sotomayor, and Clarence Thomas).

And with Stephen Breyer's retirement, Elena Kagan will be the only Jewish justice.

During her confirmation hearings on Marc 22, Jackson described her faith as "Protestant," explaining it is "nondenominational."

When Judge Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017, he ended a seven-year period when for thei first time in hisotory, no Protestants sat on the U.S. court.

Since 1789 of the 115 judges appointed to the Supreme Court, the overwhelming majority have been Protestants, but none have identified as nondenominational or evangelical said Christianity Today.

"Since the rise of politically active evangelicals in the 1970s, not a single evangelical has served on the Supreme Court," Dan Crane, Frederick Paul Furth Sr. professor of law at University of Michigan, told Christianity Today.

"It's not that they don't care about the court, but they haven't served on the court."

The high court's decisions on abortion and school prayer helped galvanize the Religious Right, but conservatives have focused more on outcomes than the identities behind the bench, wrote the magazine.

"Activism is usually mentioned as one core distinctive of being an evangelical, but we oppose it on the bench," CT observed in 2006. "Is this why there are so few top-level evangelical judges?"


It's also due to a stubborn current of anti-intellectualism prevalent in evangelicalism, the same issues Mark Noll addressed in his 1994 book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.

"Because evangelicalism comes out of fundamentalism, which is anti-intellectual, American evangelicalism continues to operate in the long tail of this," Crane said. "It's not inherent in Protestantism, but it's a manifestation of American evangelicalism."

While evangelicals make up a quarter of the American population, Crane found that they're just 7 percent of the student body at the country's top law schools.

Harvard and Yale are seen as the Supreme Court "pipeline," with eight of the nine justices—and nominee Brown—having attended law school there.

Christianity Today's question is not a new one.

In March 2020, Joshua C. Wilson a professor of political science at the University of Denver addressed the same question, Politico reported,

"There are two reasons for the evangelical absence: Supply and demand," wrote Wilson.

"The pool of properly credentialed conservative evangelical lawyers and judges is far shallower than the deep conservative Catholic reservoir.

"As evangelical Americans have deliberately separated themselves from mainstream culture, setting up alternative schools and colleges, they've largely removed themselves from the elite institutions that produce America's top-level judges and lawyers.

"There are a handful of evangelical law schools, but no equivalent of Harvard or Yale—or of the elite Catholic institutions like Notre Dame or Georgetown."

There are also differing attitudes among evangelicals around legal scholarship.

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