“How Many Jews Does It Take to Light Up a High Court Firestorm?” by J.J. Goldberg

Reference: Jewish Daily Forward

May 10, 2010

Does anybody care if there are three Jewish justices on the Supreme Court? We’re about to find out. The first few hours since Elena Kagan’s nomination have seen a low-grade but steady buzz about the court’s religious balance that sort of dances around the topic. This Washington Post blog leads off with the absence of Protestants on court and solicits the opinions of three talking heads, including Arthur Waskow as the Jewish voice. Of the three panelists, only Protestant theologian Martin Marty reluctantly concludes that religion matters, not on its merits but because that’s how Americans are.

Nina Totenberg raised the topic gingerly in a National Public Radio piece a month ago, when John Paul Stevens first announced his retirement.

Let’s face it: This is a radioactive subject. As Jeff Shesol, author of the critically acclaimed new book Supreme Power, puts it, “religion is the third rail of Supreme Court politics. It’s not something that’s talked about in polite company.”

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