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Religious Affiliation of the U.S. Supreme Court


Related pages:
- Religious Affiliation of The Legal 100:
the people who have most influenced law

- Religious Affiliation of U.S. Congress
- Religious Affiliation of U.S. Presidents
- Religious Affiliation of U.S. Vice-Presidents
- Religious Affiliation of U.S. Governors
John Roberts was confirmed by Congress on 29 September 2005 as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, replacing Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.

The chart below reflects the composition of the Supreme Court since 31 January 2006, when Samuel Alito was confirmed by U.S. Congress. Justice Alito replaced Sandra Day O'Connor, who in 2005 announced her retirement would be effective immediately once her replacement was confirmed. Samuel Alito was nominated on 31 October 2005 and was confirmed with relative ease:

JusticeAffiliation
John Roberts
  (Chief Justice)
Catholic
Stephen G. BreyerJewish
Ruth Bader GinsburgJewish
Anthony M. KennedyCatholic
Antonin ScaliaCatholic
David H. SouterEpiscopalian
John Paul StevensProtestant
Clarence ThomasCatholic
Samuel AlitoCatholic



Religious AffiliationJustices% of Justices
in this religion
% of U.S. Pop.
   in this religion
ChristianKennedy, Scalia, Thomas, Souter, Stevens, Roberts, Alito 78% 76.5%
    ProtestantStevens 11% 53.0%
    CatholicKennedy, Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito 56% 24.5%
    Episcopalian *Souter 11% 1.7%
JewishBreyer, Ginsburg 22% 1.5%


Religious Affiliation of the U.S. Supreme Court Prior to 3 Sepember 2005

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist passed away on 3 September 2005 as a result of thyroid cancer. Prior to that, on 1 July 2005, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement from the Supreme Court, effective upon the confirmation of her successor. John Roberts (a Catholic) is President George W. Bush's appointed candidate to replace Justice O'Connor, but he has not yet been confirmed by Congress. This was the first time since 1971 that there were two simultaneous vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court.

JusticeAffiliation
William H. Rehnquist
  (Chief Justice)
Lutheran (ELCA)
Stephen G. BreyerJewish
Ruth Bader GinsburgJewish
Anthony M. KennedyCatholic
Sandra Day O'ConnorEpiscopalian
Antonin ScaliaCatholic
David H. SouterEpiscopalian
John Paul StevensProtestant
Clarence ThomasCatholic



Religious AffiliationJustices% of Justices
in this religion
% of U.S. Pop.
   in this religion
ChristianKennedy, Scalia, Thomas, O'Connor, Souter, Stevens, Rehnquist 78% 76.5%
    ProtestantStevens, Rehnquist 22% 53.0%
        LutheranRehnquist 11% 5.2%
    CatholicKennedy, Scalia, Thomas 33% 24.5%
    Episcopalian *O'Connor, Souter 22% 1.7%
JewishBreyer, Ginsburg 22% 1.5%

* Episcopalian and Protestantism: Episcopalians have been left out of the "Protestant" category in the table above. Depending on the type of classification system consulted, Episcopalians are sometimes classified as "Protestant" and sometimes not. Episcopalians are part of the Anglican communion, which pre-dates Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation and is often referred to as the "Anglo-Catholic" church, a branch mid-way between Catholicism and Protestantism. If one includes the two Episcopalian justices, 44% (4 out of 9) of the Supreme Court justices are Protestant.


Religious Affiliation of All U.S. Supreme Court Justices

Affiliation# of
Justices
% of
Justices
% of U.S.
population,
2000
Episcopalian 35 32.4% 1.7%
Presbyterian 19 17.6% 2.8%
Catholic 11 10.2% 24.5%
Unitarian 10 9.3% 0.2%
Jewish 7 6.4% 1.5%
Methodist 5 4.6% 8.0%
Baptist 3 2.7% 18.0%
Congregationalist 2 1.9% 0.6%
Disciples of Christ 2 1.9% 0.3%
Lutheran 1 0.9% 5.2%
Quaker 1 0.9% 0.1%
Huguenot 1 0.9%  
"Protestant" not further defined 13 12.0% * 9.7%
Not a member of any church 1 0.9% 
Total 108 100.0% 74.4%

Some major U.S. religious groups which have never been represented on the U.S. Supreme Court: Pentecostals (2.1%), Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/Mormons (2%), Muslims (1.5%), GLBT (1.5%), Buddhists (0.5% to 0.8%), Jehovah's Witnesses (0.6%), Mennonites (0.6%), Eastern Orthodox (approx. 0.5%).


* "Protestant" not further defined: According to 2000 Gallup polling data, 57% of Americans identify themselves as Protestants. But most also identify with a specific denomination or denominational family. In the 1990 Kosmin NSRI survey, 9.7% of Americans stated their religious preference as "Protestant", without further denominational identification.

It is important to note that the relative proportion of membership in various religious groups has changed dramatically over the course of U.S. history. For example, when the nation was founded, Congregationalists and Episcopalians were among the largest denominations, but there were very few Catholics. Today, the Catholic Church is the largest U.S. denomination. Also, there are only nine Supreme Court justices, so it would be impossible to ever have a Court that reflects every possible demographic group. So, to compare the proportion of Supreme Court justices in various denominations from throughout U.S. history versus the proportion of U.S. citizens in those denominations today is not as meaningful as, for example, comparing the current religious composition of the U.S. House of Representatives to the current religious demographics of the U.S. population.

JusticeReligion
Charles E. HughesBaptist
Howell E. JacksonBaptist
Hugo L. BlackBaptist
Anthony M. KennedyCatholic
Antonin ScaliaCatholic
Clarence ThomasCatholic
John RobertsCatholic
Edward D. WhiteCatholic
Frank MurphyCatholic
Joseph McKennaCatholic
Pierce ButlerCatholic
Roger B. TaneyCatholic
William J. BrennanCatholic
Sherman MintonCatholic (convert after retired)
Oliver EllsworthCongregationalist
Nathan CliffordCongregationalist; later Unitarian
Joseph R. LamarDisciples of Christ
James C. McReynoldsDisciples of Christ
Alfred MooreEpiscopal
Bushrod WashingtonEpiscopal
Byron R. WhiteEpiscopal
David H. SouterEpiscopal
Edward T. SanfordEpiscopal
George SutherlandEpiscopal
Harlan F. StoneEpiscopal
Horace H. LurtonEpiscopal
James F. ByrnesEpiscopal
James IredellEpiscopal
James WilsonEpiscopal
John A. CampbellEpiscopal
John JayEpiscopal
John MarshallEpiscopal
John RutledgeEpiscopal
Melville W. FullerEpiscopal
Morrison R. WaiteEpiscopal
Owen J. RobertsEpiscopal
Peter V. DanielEpiscopal
Philip P. BarbourEpiscopal
Potter StewartEpiscopal
Robert H. JacksonEpiscopal
Rufus W. PeckhamEpiscopal
Salmon P. ChaseEpiscopal
Samuel ChaseEpiscopal
Sandra Day O'ConnorEpiscopal
Stephen J. FieldEpiscopal
Thomas JohnsonEpiscopal
Thurgood MarshallEpiscopal
Ward HuntEpiscopal
William H. MoodyEpiscopal
Willis Van DevanterEpiscopal
Henry BaldwinEpiscopal
Gabriel DuvalHuguenot
Abe FortasJewish
Arthur J. GoldbergJewish
Benjamin N. CardozoJewish
Felix FrankfurterJewish
Louis D. BrandeisJewish
Ruth Bader GinsburgJewish
Stephen G. BreyerJewish
William H. RehnquistLutheran (ELCA)
Charles E. WhittakerMethodist
Frederick M. VinsonMethodist
Harry A. BlackmunMethodist
Lucius Q. C. LamarMethodist
John McLeanMethodist-Episcopal
David DavisNot a member of any church.
Brockholst LivingstonPresbyterian
George Shiras, Jr.Presbyterian
John CatronPresbyterian
John M. HarlanPresbyterian
Joseph P. BradleyPresbyterian
Lewis F. Powell, Jr.Presbyterian
Mahlon PitneyPresbyterian
Robert C. GrierPresbyterian
Samuel BlatchfordPresbyterian
Smith ThompsonPresbyterian
Stanley MatthewsPresbyterian
Thomas ToddPresbyterian
Tom C. ClarkPresbyterian
Warren E. BurgerPresbyterian
William JohnsonPresbyterian
William O. DouglasPresbyterian
William StrongPresbyterian
William PatersonPresbyterian
John BlairPresbyterian; Episcopal
Noah H. SwayneQuaker
Benjamin R. CurtisUnitarian; then Episcopal
Harold H. BurtonUnitarian
Horace GrayUnitarian
Joseph StoryUnitarian
Oliver W. HolmesUnitarian
Samuel F. MillerUnitarian
Wiley B. RutledgeUnitarian
William CushingUnitarian
William H. TaftUnitarian
David J. BrewerProtestant
Earl WarrenProtestant
Henry B. BrownProtestant
James M. WayneProtestant
John H. ClarkeProtestant
John McKinleyProtestant
John Paul StevensProtestant
Levi WoodburyProtestant
Robert TrimbleProtestant
Samuel NelsonProtestant
Stanley F. ReedProtestant
William B. WoodsProtestant
William R. DayProtestant

 Service Birth   
Name, stateTerm Yrs Place Date Died Religion
Chief Justices
John Jay, N.Y.1789-17955N.Y.17451829Episcopal
John Rutledge, S.C.17950S.C.17391800Church of England
Oliver Ellsworth, Conn.1796-18004Conn.17451807Congregationalist
John Marshall, Va.1801-183534Va.17551835Episcopal
Roger B. Taney, Md.1836-186428Md.17771864Catholic
Salmon P. Chase, Ohio1864-18738N.H.18081873Episcopal
Morrison R. Waite, Ohio1874-188814Conn.18161888Episcopal
Melville W. Fuller, Ill.1888-191021Maine18331910Episcopal
Edward D. White, La.1910-192110La.18451921Catholic
William H. Taft, Conn.1921-19308Ohio18571930Unitarian
Charles E. Hughes, N.Y.1930-194111N.Y.18621948Baptist
Harlan F. Stone, N.Y.1941-19464N.H.18721946Episcopal
Frederick M. Vinson, Ky.1946-19537Ky.18901953Methodist
Earl Warren, Calif.1953-196915Calif.18911974Protestant
Warren E. Burger, Va.1969-198617Minn.19071995Presbyterian
William H. Rehnquist, Ariz.1986-200519Wis.19242005Lutheran
John Roberts, D.C.2005-N.Y.1955Catholic
Associate Justices
James Wilson, Pa.1789-17988Scotland17421798Episcopal
John Rutledge, S.C.1790-17911S.C.17391800Church of England
William Cushing, Mass.1790-181020Mass.17321810Unitarian
John Blair, Va.1790-17965Va.17321800Presbyterian
James Iredell, N.C.1790-17999England17511799Episcopal
Thomas Johnson, Md.1792-17930Md.17321819Episcopal
William Paterson, N.J.1793-180613Ireland17451806Presbyterian (Protestant)
Samuel Chase, Md.1796-181115Md.17411811Episcopal
Bushrod Washington, Va.1799-182930Va.17621829Episcopal
Alfred Moore, N.C.1800-18043N.C.17551810Episcopal
William Johnson, S.C.1804-183430S.C.17711834Presbyterian
Brockholst Livingston, N.Y.1807-182316N.Y.17571823Presbyterian
Thomas Todd, Ky.1807-182618Va.17651826Presbyterian
Gabriel Duval, Md.1811-183523Md.17521844French Protestant
Joseph Story, Mass.1812-184533Mass.17791845Unitarian
Smith Thompson, N.Y.1823-184320N.Y.17681843Presbyterian
Robert Trimble, Ky.1826-18282Va.17771828Protestant
John McLean, Ohio1830-186131N.J.17851861Methodist-Epis.
Henry Baldwin, Pa.1830-184414Conn.17801844Episcopal (Trinity Church)
James M. Wayne, Ga.1835-186732Ga.17901867Protestant
Philip P. Barbour, Va.1836-18414Va.17831841Episcopal
John Catron, Tenn.1837-186528Pa.17861865Presbyterian
John McKinley, Ala.1837-185214Va.17801852Protestant
Peter V. Daniel, Va.1841-186018Va.17841860Episcopal
Samuel Nelson, N.Y.1845-187227N.Y.17921873Protestant
Levi Woodbury, N.H.1845-18515N.H.17891851Protestant
Robert C. Grier, Pa.1846-187023Pa.17941870Presbyterian
Benjamin R. Curtis, Mass.1851-18575Mass.18091874Unitarian; then Episcopal
John A. Campbell, Ala.1853-18618Ga.18111889Episcopal
Nathan Clifford, Maine1858-188123N.H.18031881Congregationalist; later Unitarian
Noah H. Swayne, Ohio1862-188118Va.18041884Quaker
Samuel F. Miller, Iowa1862-189028Ky.18161890Unitarian
David Davis, Ill.1862-187714Md.18151886Not a member of any church
Stephen J. Field, Calif.1863-189734Conn.18161899Episcopal
William Strong, Pa.1870-188010Conn.18081895Presbyterian
Joseph P. Bradley, N.J.1870-189221N.Y.18131892Presbyterian
Ward Hunt, N.Y.1872-18829N.Y.18101886Episcopal
John M. Harlan, Ky.1877-191133Ky.18331911Presbyterian
William B. Woods, Ga.1880-18876Ohio18241887Protestant
Stanley Matthews, Ohio1881-18897Ohio18241889Presbyterian
Horace Gray, Mass.1882-190220Mass.18281902Unitarian or Congregationalist
Samuel Blatchford, N.Y.1882-189311N.Y.18201893Presbyterian
Lucius Q. C. Lamar, Miss.1888-18935Ga.18251893Methodist
David J. Brewer, Kan.1889-191020Asia Minor18371910Protestant
Henry B. Brown, Mich.1890-190615Mass.18361913Protestant
George Shiras, Jr., Pa.1892-190310Pa.18321924Presbyterian
Howell E. Jackson, Tenn.1893-18952Tenn.18321895Baptist
Edward D. White, La.*1894-191016La.18451921Catholic
Rufus W. Peckham, N.Y.1895-190913N.Y.18381909Episcopal
Joseph McKenna, Calif.1898-192526Pa.18431926Catholic
Oliver W. Holmes, Mass.1902-193229Mass.18411935Unitarian
William R. Day, Ohio1903-192219Ohio18491923Protestant
William H. Moody, Mass.1906-19103Mass.18531917Episcopal
Horace H. Lurton, Tenn.1909-19144Ky.18441914Episcopal
Charles E. Hughes, N.Y.*1910-19165N.Y.18621948Baptist
Willis Van Devanter, Wyo.1910-193726Ind.18591941Episcopal
Mahlon Pitney, N.J.1912-192210N.J.18581924Presbyterian
Joseph R. Lamar, Ga.1910-19164Ga.18571916Disciples of Christ
James C. McReynolds, Tenn.1914-194126Ky.18621946Disciples of Christ
Louis D. Brandeis, Mass.1916-193922Ky.18561941Jewish
John H. Clarke, Ohio1916-19225Ohio18571945Protestant
George Sutherland, Utah1922-193815England18621942Episcopal
Pierce Butler, Minn.1923-193916Minn.18661939Catholic
Edward T. Sanford, Tenn.1923-19307Tenn.18651930Episcopal
Harlan F. Stone, N.Y.*1925-194116N.H.18721946Episcopal
Owen J. Roberts, Pa.1930-194515Pa.18751955Episcopal
Benjamin N. Cardozo, N.Y.1932-19386N.Y.18701938Jewish
Hugo L. Black, Ala.1937-197134Ala.18861971Baptist
Stanley F. Reed, Ky.1938-195719Ky.18841980Protestant
Felix Frankfurter, Mass.1939-196223Austria18821965Jewish
William O. Douglas, Conn.1939-197536Minn.18981980Presbyterian
Frank Murphy, Mich.1940-19499Mich.18901949Catholic
James F. Byrnes, S.C.1941-19421S.C.18791972Episcopal
Robert H. Jackson, Pa.1941-195413N.Y.18921954Episcopal
Wiley B. Rutledge, Iowa1943-19496Ky.18941949Unitarian
Harold H. Burton, Ohio1945-195813Mass.18881964Unitarian
Tom C. Clark, Tex.1949-196717Tex.18991977Presbyterian
Sherman Minton, Ind.1949-19567Ind.18901965Catholic
John M. Harlan, N.Y.1955-197116Ill.18991971Presbyterian
William J. Brennan, Jr., N.J.1956-199033N.J.19061997Catholic
Charles E. Whittaker, Mo.1957-19625Kan.19011973Methodist
Potter Stewart, Ohio1958-198123Mich.19151985Episcopal
Byron R. White, Colo.1962-199331Colo.19172002Episcopal
Arthur J. Goldberg, Ill.1962-19652Ill.19081990Jewish
Abe Fortas, Tenn.1965-19693Tenn.19101982Jewish
Thurgood Marshall, N.Y.1967-199124Md.19081993Episcopal
Harry A. Blackmun, Minn.1970-199424Ill.19081999Methodist
Lewis F. Powell, Jr., Va.1972-198715Va.19071998Presbyterian
William H. Rehnquist, Ariz.*1972-198614Wis.19242005Lutheran
John Paul Stevens, Ill.1975-Ill.1920Protestant
Sandra Day O'Connor, Ariz.1981-Tex.1930Episcopal
Antonin Scalia, D.C.1986-N.J.1936Catholic
Anthony M. Kennedy, Calif.1988-Calif.1936Catholic
David H. Souter, N.H.1990-Mass.1939Episcopal
Clarence Thomas, D.C.1991-Ga.1948Catholic
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, D.C.1993-N.Y.1933Jewish
Stephen G. Breyer, Mass.1994-Calif.1938Jewish

* Associate Justices marked with an asterisk in the table above became Chief Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. Note that the years of service in the Associate Justice section indicate only the years during which they served as an Associate Justice. Their years as Chief Justice are indicated in the top section of this table.

Although we have added additional information and expanded upon its presdentation considerably, a major source of the table above was: "Members of the Supreme Court of the United States" in the "History and Government" section of the Lycos InfoPlease website (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0101281.html; viewed 26 March 2001).

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Religion of the Supreme Court web page created 26 March 2001. Last modified 31 January 2006.