President Trump's nominee for the next Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh, will draw scrutiny from Congress and the press as he proceeds through the confirmation process. Currently a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., Kavanaugh is an established conservative. One of the most common lines of inquiry so far is how his religion might affect the Supreme Court's ideological balance.
Is Brett Kavanaugh a Catholic?
Kavanaugh, 53, is a practicing Catholic. With his wife and two daughters, he attends the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington, D.C., where he is a regular lector, or reader of religious texts during services. According to the U.S. Circuit Court website, Kavanaugh also volunteers for the St. Maria's Meals program at Catholic Charities, and has tutored at the Washington Jesuit Academy.
Would he be the only Catholic on the Supreme Court?
The Supreme Court is actually majority Catholic. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, two-thirds of the nine justices will have a Catholic background. The others are Chief Justice John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor. The newest justice, Neil Gorsuch, was raised Catholic but now attends an Episcopal church.
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The Supreme Court's Catholic majority stands in contrast to the presidency — only one U.S. president, John F. Kennedy, has been Catholic — and the overall composition of the country: In 2014, about 20 percent of Americans identified as Catholic.
During Senate hearings, Kavanaugh will undoubtedly be questioned about whether he would support overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a woman's federal right to an abortion. As a Circuit Court judge, Kavanaugh issued one ruling concerning abortion. In the case of a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant who was seeking an abortion, he dissented from the majority ruling and voted that she shouldn't be allowed to obtain the procedure.
According to a 2017 Pew survey, a majority of Catholics — 53 percent — believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. That compares to 57 percent of the general public.