Monday, October 31, 2005

Supreme Court-Catholic majority?

I was reading about the Alito confirmation on Volokh Conspiracy when I came across this fascinating comment to a post by David Bernstein on the possibility of a Catholic majority on the Supreme Court:

I think one reason for the dominance of Jews and Catholics in the law is that both of our traditions have a long history of linguistic interpretation and detailed analysis of laws, rules, and regulations. Protestantism, has a strong strain of anti-intellectualism, rooted in the emotivist ideal of an "individual relationship with God." This is not true of all Protestants or variations of Protestantism, of course, but it's pretty central to numerous Protestant sects, where contempt is openly shown for "the man who would rather read Shakespeare than the Bible."

While Catholics and Jews embrace the ideas of authority and tradition within their religious traditions, Protestantism has in many respects broken them down. Even now, I'd wager, Catholics and Jews are overrepresented in the learned professions, specifically law and medicine. I think this comes from the culture of respect for learning as an end in itself, which is largely abesnt from Protestant traditions.

I think this anti-intellectualism explains in part the lack of serious constitutional scholarlship by a Harriett Miers, nor the recognition of this fact by Bush and Miers herself. For both of them, approaching a text with a "good heart" is all that is needed. A lifetime of study is likely only to get one into trouble with unnecessary, byzantine complexity. --Roach (blogger, V.C.)

Is it a fair assessment to state that overall, Catholics and Jews, with their extensive religious histories and their focus on canon and theology, tend to have a leg up on their "emotive" Protestant competition? Years of research and resources (by the respective religions) spent on the study of their religious texts would seem to say so, but is it too large of a jump to associate the religious hierarchy of these churches with their practicing laypeople?

If this statement seems to hold some grain of truth, then what does this mean for those of other religions, agnostics, and atheists who wish to practice law or hold court?