Justice Stevens will not be easily replaced

Rick Garnett rgarnett at nd.edu
Thu Apr 22 09:30:38 PDT 2010


Dear Jeff,

Justice Thomas was raised Catholic and educated in (he often says "saved by" Catholic schools).  He studied, for a time, for the priesthood, but left the minor seminary apparently because some of his fellow students were racist and treated him badly.  (I've heard it reported that some cruel things were said to him, on the occasion of Dr. King's assassination.)  On the advice of the religious sisters who had educated him, he attended Holy Cross for college.  During his young adulthood, and through the time he joined the Court, I gather that he worshipped with Protestant congregations (which was one reason why Gov. Wilder's expressed reservations, during the confirmation process, about the possible implications of Thomas's Catholicism for his judging, seemed strange) but has, for many years now, been a practicing Catholic.

Best,

Rick

Richard W. Garnett
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Notre Dame Law School
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From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu [mailto:conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Renz, Jeff
Sent: Thursday, April 22, 2010 12:00 PM
To: Walsh, Kevin; Hamilton02 at aol.com; SLevinson at law.utexas.edu; conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: RE: Justice Stevens will not be easily replaced

Correct me here-Thomas was raised Catholic but now attends Protestant church, right?  Breyer, raised Jewish but converted?  (His daughter is an Episcopal priest.)

Prof. Jeffrey T. Renz
School of Law
The University of Montana
32 Campus Drive
Missoula, Montana  59812
406-243-5127

From: Walsh, Kevin [mailto:kwalsh at richmond.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 7:27 PM
To: Hamilton02 at aol.com; SLevinson at law.utexas.edu; Renz, Jeff; conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: RE: Justice Stevens will not be easily replaced

In what way is Justice Stevens's religious identity as a Protestant "meaningful"?  (Has it ever been?)   And might there not be "meaningful religious diversity" among the Catholics on the Court?  Among the more religious and less religious (whether Catholic or Jewish)?

Kevin

From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu [mailto:conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Hamilton02 at aol.com
Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 8:08 PM
To: SLevinson at law.utexas.edu; Jeff.Renz at mso.umt.edu; conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: Re: Justice Stevens will not be easily replaced

In the event this has yet to be noted,f and I apologize if so, there is also no meaningful religious diversity on the Court following Justice Stevens' retirement -- six Catholics and two who are Jewish.  He is the only remaining Protestant on the Court.

Marci

In a message dated 4/21/2010 8:04:37 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, SLevinson at law.utexas.edu writes:
I also note that Breyer is the one and only member of the Court who actually has affirmative regard for Congress, because he was Chief Counsel (I believe) of the Senate Judiciary Committee for a while in the 1970s.  The rest of the Court, I believe, has either active disdain or polite indifference (perhaps depending on whether they worked in the Executive Branch and learned to view Congress as an obstreperous bunch of clowns).

In any event, I agree with Jeff that we have a stunningly non-diverse Court if we define "diversity" in any way other than race or gender.

sandy

-----Original Message-----
From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu [mailto:conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Renz, Jeff
Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 6:00 PM
To: conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: Justice Stevens will not be easily replaced

You are all to kind to the court.

Stevens will not be easily replaced because he is one of the few judges on the court with meaningful life experience.  Only Alito and Breyer served on active duty in the armed services.  Alito on a six-month stint for Signal Corps Officer Basic Course (go to class--finish class--go to the officers club pool, except on the days that your class is in the field.)  Breyer, to his credit, served 6 months as an enlisted member.

Of the eight justices remaining after Stevens retires, four attended private high schools.  All attended private universities.  All attended private law schools.

This is not the sort of heterogeneous group that provides collective wisdom.  This is not the sort of background that necessarily leads to a wise judge.  Of the sitting court, only Thomas and Sotomayor, in my opinion, have the background that lends itself to the development of wisdom to make decisions that affect millions of their fellow citizens.  Sadly, I think Thomas's life experience has been trumped by Thomas's bitterness.  (I also give Breyer credit because he performed menial work while in college, despite coming from an upper-middle class background.)

Prof. Jeffrey T. Renz
School of Law
The University of Montana
32 Campus Drive
Missoula, Montana  59812
406-243-5127

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