Addressing Three Problems in Commentary on Catholics at the Supreme Court by Reference to Three Decades of Catholic Bishops' Amicus Briefs
Much commentary about Catholic Justices serving on the Supreme Court suffers from three related shortcomings: (1) episodic, one-case-at-a-time commentary; (2) asymmetric causal attributions resulting from inattention to cases in which Catholic Justices vote for outcomes opposite those advocated by the Catholic Bishops' Conference; and (3) inattention to broader jurisprudential and ideological factors. This article uses an overlooked resource to identify and counteract these shortcomings. It assesses the votes of the Justices-Catholic and non-Catholic alike-in the full set of cases from the Rehnquist Court and the Roberts Court (through June 2014) in which the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops filed an amicus curiae brief. By opening up critical consideration of the Catholic Justices within a wider set of cases, this Article raises more questions than it answers. But the first step toward getting better answers is to ask better questions.
Kevin C. Walsh, Addressing Three Problems in Commentary on Catholics at the Supreme Court by Reference to Three Decades of Catholic Bishops' Amicus Briefs, 26 STAN. L. & POL'Y REV. 411 (2015).