Jews, Catholics and SCOTUS

It’s long past time for America to consider the heretical idea of amending the Constitution and make new openings on the Supreme Court term-limited if not elective offices.

When the Founding Fathers devised the Constitution in the late eighteenth century, life expectancy at birth, thanks to rampant diseases, was a mere 24 years although, depending on where one lived, it could range up to 60 in New England, 45 in the Middle Colonies and 35 in the South. Those figures are according to Encyclopedia.com.

Averaging the 3 locales, a person could expect to live 46.7 years, with a little bit of luck. Today, thanks to the marvels of modern science and medicine, Americans can reasonably expect to live well into their seventies and beyond and late eighties and nineties are no longer unusual.

There is no possible way that James Madison and the others involved in the collaborative effort of drafting the marvellous document that is the Constitution of the United States could ever have anticipated septuagenarians and octogenarians among the membership of the Supreme Court.

As sacred as the Constitution is, that situation should be remedied via an amendment if America truly wishes to have justices reflect a cross section of the American people.

If it is decided to continue having the president nominate and the Senate to give its advice and consent in confirmation, one term of ten years would be more than appropriate and reasonable.

Electing justices by popular vote is another option. Though more ticklish since it would make SCOTUS subject to the passing whims of the people, that option is still worth consideration to make the Court more representative of the electorate.

The inspiration for all of the foregoing is that the Supreme Court that will re-convene next October is horrendously misbalanced.

Assuming the confirmation of the latest nominee, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, the new court will have, as it has now, a near-perfect racial cross section of America with Clarence Thomas as a sitting justice. However, there will still be a gender imbalance with only 3 women.

As for religious balance, it will be nowhere near what the Founders envisioned and that situation should be rectified.

For the record, I happen to be a Catholic but it’s patently unfair to have two minority religions, Catholics and Jews, constituting the entire membership of the principal judicial body in America while the majority religion, Protestantism, is not represented at all.

When she is confirmed by the Senate, Kagan will become the third justice of the Jewish persuasion on SCOTUS out of a total of nine. The simplest of math says that 3 of 9 = 33 1/3% with the remaining six seats held by Catholics, or 66 2/3%. The only “problem” with those numbers is that only 2% of Americans are Jewish while 25% are Catholic and 55% are Protestants.

There’s a clear inequity on SCOTUS. Over half the country will not be represented on the highest court in the land.

Something is seriously amok with the Supreme Court and the only plausible rectification is term limits so that one particular president isn’t able to perpetuate his personal ideology for 30 years or more by stacking the Court. Even better, a one-term limit and popular election of SCOTUS justices might be the best alternatives to what we have now.

I feel certain that, under the present circumstances, the Founding Fathers would be happier with the change.

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