U.S. Supreme Court

Only One of 3 Judges on Rumored Short List Would Bring Religious and Law School Diversity to Court

Justice John Paul Stevens is the only current member of the Supreme Court who is Protestant and who didn’t attend Harvard or Yale law school.

Stevens went to Northwestern law school, where he was first in his class. And he is the only member of the court to identify himself as a Protestant: Six other justices are Catholic, and two are Jewish.

His retirement means there could be no justice on the Supreme Court who is a member of the majority religion in the United States, the New York Times reports.

Only one possible nominee on a rumored three-person short list—Judge Diane Wood of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals—would keep the court diverse in terms of religion and law school.

Wood is a Protestant and a graduate of the law school at the University of Texas at Austin. Two others on the short list—Solicitor General Elena Kagan and Judge Merrick Garland—are Jewish and Harvard law graduates.

Northwestern law professor Lee Epstein told the New York Times that religion isn’t a focus now days, while diversity in terms of race, gender and ethnicity is taking on increasing importance.

It wasn’t always that way. “Historically, religion was huge,” Epstein told the Times. “It was up there with geography as the key factor.”

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