Gorsuch Will Be The First Protestant on the Supreme Court In Many Years

For some time there has not been a Protestant on the Supreme Ct. Present members are either Jewish or Roman Catholic. Gorsuch is a member of an Episcopal Church. He was raised in the Roman Catholic Church and in attending an Episcopal Church comes as close as a Protestant can come to being a RC.

RC jurists often resort to Natural Law reasoning for guidance, the belief that even as the physical world is governed by laws that guide its behaviors so human beings are governed by laws that guide them to the flourishing life. These laws are discoverable by reason and establish the framework for moral decision making. This is a way to establish morality without a direct appeal to religion and revelation and thus accessible to all. The most famous of the recent Justices, Justice Scalia, a RC, however, did not explicitly appeal to Natural Law but simply to the text of the Constitution. For him this was sufficient.

My initial impression is that this is Justice Gorsuch’s paradigm as well. Nothing came up in my google search on Gorsuch that indicated otherwise. Yet I would assume that he would be comforted in a belief that the Constitution comports with the laws that govern human nature as discovered though Natural Law reasoning.

There is not an Evangelical on the Court nor is it easy to imagine that there will be one. Evangelicals have historically been uncomfortable with moral reasoning that does not make explicit reference to God’s revelation in the Bible and therefore as a rule do not use Natural Law theory. I am certain that this is an overstatement, but it is true as a general framework. America’s early jurist often appealed explicitly to the Bible in judicial reasoning. This is no longer acceptable in our courts.

I contend that Evangelicals can use Natural Law theory every bit as much as RCs do. And, in fact, there is a burgeoning movement to do so. Yet it is not rooted in the Evangelical mind, and for some time I expect that no Evangelical will be on the Supreme Court.

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