The lack of religious diversity on the U.S. Supreme Court has long been troubling, even though the appointment of Justice Jackson brings it slightly more in line with the nation's religious makeup.
Indeed, one good reason to increase the size of the U.S. Supreme Court, in addition to its conservative dominance which is out of step with the views of the nation as a whole, is to allow the U.S. Supreme Court to have a more diverse and representative membership.
Jackson, who was confirmed by the Senate . . . will be only the second Protestant on the high court when she joins the court this summer, along with Neil Gorsuch (who is Episcopalian but was raised Catholic). The justice whom Jackson will replace, Stephen Breyer, is Jewish, as is Elena Kagan, who remains on the court.
The remaining six justices -- John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett -- are Catholic.
This is not reflective of the U.S. population, as has been widely discussed in recent years. Our latest estimate from over 15,000 Gallup interviews conducted from January 2021 through March of this year shows that about 22% of the adult population identifies as Catholic, as opposed to the 67% Catholic representation on the court. Two percent of the population identifies as Jewish (Kagan represents 11% of the nine justices). The biggest disproportionality comes in terms of Protestants. About 45% of Americans are non-Catholic Christian, or Protestant, compared with what will be 22% Protestant representation on the court.
There is also a completely missing constituency on the court, the "nones," or those who when asked say they have no formal religious identity. About 21% of the U.S. population are nones (and another 3% don't give a response when asked about their religion), according to Gallup data. . . .
Jackson's self-identification as a "nondenominational" Protestant also reflects an increasingly prevalent trend within the Protestant segment. Fewer non-Catholic Christians now identify with established Protestant denominations (for example, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran), and more who are not Catholics simply say they are Christian or nondenominational. . . .
members of Congress are somewhat more representative of the U.S. population in their religious identity than are Supreme Court justices. Pew Research used data collected by CQ Roll Call to estimate the religious composition of the 117th Congress. Like the court, almost all members of Congress have a religious identity, which, like the court, puts Congress at odds with the general population, among whom less than 80% have a religious identity. Pew reports that of the 531 members of Congress and the Senate seated in early 2021, only one said they were religiously unaffiliated, although the religious identity of another 3.6% couldn't be established.Given this relatively low percentage of nones in Congress compared with the U.S. population, other religious groups have to be proportionally higher, as is in fact the case. Unlike the Supreme Court, which is disproportionately Catholic, the percentage of Catholics in Congress (30%) is just modestly higher than the population's percentage of Catholics. Also unlike the Supreme Court, which is way underrepresented in terms of Protestants, the 55% of Congress who identify as Protestant or non-Catholic Christian is somewhat higher than the general population. Finally, while the 6% of members of Congress who are Jewish is low in absolute terms, it is three times the percentage of Jews in the general population.