Nominee likely fifth Catholic on US Supreme Court

If Judge Samuel Alito Jr. is confirmed as a US Supreme Court justice, it would be the first time in history that the majority of justices on the nation's highest court are Catholic.

CLICK HERECatholic News Service reports that President George W. Bush nominated Alito on Monday. The nominee is a former US attorney in New Jersey and for the past 15 years a judge on the Philadelphia-based 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals. He is widely regarded as a strong conservative on an appellate court that is considered among the most liberal in the country.

The 55-year-old judge is likely to face strong Democratic opposition because on the appellate court he opined that it was constitutional to require wives to notify their husbands before having an abortion. That opinion came as a minority dissent in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, a landmark case contesting Pennsylvania's 1989 Abortion Control Act.

If confirmed, Alito would be the 11th Catholic in US history to sit on the Supreme Court and would become the fifth Catholic justice on the current court, forming for the first time a majority of Catholics on the nine-member court.

Other Catholics currently on the nation's highest bench are recently appointed Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.

Past Catholics on the Supreme Court included two other chief justices, Roger Taney, 1836-64, and Edward White, a justice from 1894 to 1910 and chief justice, 1910-21. Other former Catholic justices were Joseph McKenna, Pierce Butler, Frank Murphy and William Brennan Jr.

Alito was named to take the place of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who last summer announced her plans to retire as soon as a successor is confirmed.

In his nomination speech Bush called Alito "one of the most accomplished and respected judges in America."

The nomination came just four days after White House counsel Harriet Miers, who had been nominated a month ago to succeed O'Connor, withdrew her name under heavy fire from conservative groups who form the core of Bush's political support. They were concerned that she had no court track record to back administration claims that she would bring a conservative judicial philosophy to the bench.

Alito would be fifth Catholic on Supreme Court (Catholic News Service 31/10/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Supreme Court of the United States

Catholic majority seen for Supreme Court (Big News Network/United Press International 1/10/05)
New USCCB document to outline role of lay ministers (Catholic News Agency 1/11/05)
Christian groups applaud Alito nomination to US Supreme Court (Catholic News Agency 1/11/05)
Alito Could Be Vote on Abortion Cases (Leading the Charge 1/11/05)
Alito Could Be 5th Catholic on Current Supreme Court (New York Times 1/11/05)
William Saletan: Why Catholics? The political advantages of Catholic justices (Slate 1/11/05)
Supreme Knight Hails Court Nominee (Zenit 31/10/05)
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2 Nov 2005