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Sotomayor Would be Sixth Catholic on Supreme Court

Rachel Zoll | 6/4/2009, 7:29 a.m.

If Judge Sonia Sotomayor is confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, she will be the sixth Roman Catholic of the nine justices.

But far from forming any unified bloc, the justices would represent the vast diversity of American Catholics, from weekly churchgoers to the occasional attendee.

Sotomayor, a parochial school graduate, has said nothing since her nomination about how she practices her faith.
The White House said: €She currently does not belong to a particular parish or church, but she attends church with family and friends for important occasions.''
More than half of U.S. Catholics rarely or never attend Mass, and they tend to have more liberal views than frequent churchgoers on abortion, gay marriage and other issues.
On the high court, Sotomayor would join a group of regular Mass attendees: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
As the daughter of Puerto Rican parents, Sotomayor represents the fast-growing Hispanic presence in the church. Studies have found that Latino Catholics tend to be more liberal on social justice issues such as immigration, but more conservative on marriage and other personal moral issues.

In a 2007 speech at Villanova University Law School, Scalia said: €There is no such thing as a 'Catholic judge.'''

€The bottom line is that the Catholic faith seems to me to have little effect on my work as a judge,'' he said, as reported by the journal First Things. €I am hard pressed to tell you of a single opinion of mine that would have come out differently if I were not Catholic.''

In recent years, the nation's bishops have been emphasizing the obligation of Catholic legislators to follow core church teachings, especially on abortion. However, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said they do not plan to comment on Sotomayor.