Culture Wars/Current Controversies

How conservative Catholics became supreme on GOP’s court

Did the Know-Nothings know something after all?

By Ronald Brownstein


President Donald Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett continues the GOP’s remarkable streak of selecting Catholic jurists for the Supreme Court and underscores the enduring impact of the alliance between conservative Catholics and evangelical Protestants, which has transformed the Republican coalition.

If the Senate confirms Barrett to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, that would mean all six Supreme Court justices appointed by Republican presidents were raised Catholic. Two of them — Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first nominee — later attended Protestant churches as adults, although Thomas subsequently reverted to Catholicism.


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