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  Stevens, the Only Protestant on the Supreme Court
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ContributorRBH 
Last EditedRBH  Apr 10, 2010 05:23pm
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CategoryNews
AuthorAdam Liptak
MediaNewspaper - New York Times
News DateFriday, April 9, 2010 11:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionWith just five exceptions, every member of the Supreme Court in the nation’s history has been a white male, like Justice John Paul Stevens.

But Justice Stevens cuts a lone figure on the current court in one demographic category: He is the only Protestant.

His retirement, which was announced on Friday, makes possible something that would have been unimaginable a generation or two ago — a court without a single member of the nation’s majority religion.

“The practical reality of life in America is that religion plays much less of a role in everyday life than it did 50 or 100 years ago,” said Geoffrey R. Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago. Adding a Protestant to the court, he said, would not bring an important element to its discussions.

“These days,” said Lee Epstein, a law professor at Northwestern and an authority on the court, “we’ve moved to other sources of diversity,” including race, gender and ethnicity.

That move reflects a profound shift in the way we think about law, and in the very meaning of identity politics.

On the one hand, the job of Supreme Court justice now seems to require a very specific set of qualifications. Except for Justice Stevens, all the current justices attended law school at Harvard or Yale.
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