University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone made the “painfully awkward observation” here, and Jan Crawford Greenburg of ABC News wrote a blog post here questioning those who make the connection. Would it be any more relevant, she asked, to observe that all the justices in the majority are baseball fans and therefore appreciate rules? Greenburg also reports that Rosie O’Donnell (pictured) made the Catholic connection on ABC's The View after the decision, then asking, “How about separation of church and state in America?”
As a background fact, there seems to be nothing wrong about taking note of some aspect of a justice’s personal life, if it is relevant or interesting; reporters (including myself) have noted in stories about tobacco cases that both Thomas and Scalia are or have been smokers. The relevance and interest exists here, but just barely; Catholicism is not a one-issue religion, and not all Catholics obey its teachings on abortion or anything else.
Here is one way to test where the line should be; the Court on Wednesday handed down three 5-4 decisions setting aside three death sentences in Texas. The Catholic Church opposes the death penalty in almost all cases. All four of the dissenters in Wednesday’s cases were Catholics. The fifth Catholic, Justice Kennedy, provided liberal non-Catholics the swing vote needed to strike down the death sentences. Would anyone make the Catholic connection in explaining Kennedy’s vote or in questioning the dissents of the other four?