While I don't think anyone has made a strong case that the five Catholic members of the Supreme Court are imposing their religion on us, I do think religion plays a role in their views. I also think this point is banal.
Does your religion or life philosophy influence your actions in life? We generally expect Christians to give to charity and to not adulterate. We expect environmentalist to recycle and drive energy-efficient cars. We hope that advocates for the common man actually, you know, advocate for the common man.
Of course, people often fail to practice what they preach. So knowing someone's religion or worldview isn't always probative. For example, a couple of weeks ago my dog and I were almost run over. The driver was in a hurry and didn't seem to mind that my dog and I were in a crosswalk and that he almost killed us. Why was the driver in such a hurry? He had to go to church, of course! (I gave him a nice "talking to." I bet the man who nearly killed me to arrive at church 10-seconds sooner said something like, "That kid needs Jesus!")
But "Sunday-morning" Christians are not to be lauded. They, like liberals who cheat on their taxes and live lavish lifestyles or "environmentalists" who don't recycle, are simply people who refuse to practice what they preach. Indeed, the very sincerity of their beliefs are rightfully doubted. What's my point?
Isn't this discussion of whether the religion of Supreme Court justices influences their decisions nonsense? The answer should be rather banal: Yes, if they believe what they purport to believe; though most people lack the self-discipline to remain steadfast in their beliefs.
Much bloviating to the contrary, Supreme Court justices make up the law. Sure, they are bound by precedent and public opinion. But these are weak binds. Not a single Supreme Court justice has not contradicted his supposedly firmly-held beliefs. There is a reason no law professor has ever been able to write: "A Unified Theory of Justice X's Jurisprudence." Square pegs cannot be fit into round holes - no matter how good the hammer.
If someone believes that using drugs is immoral, then this will be reflected in his jurisprudence. If someone believes in affirmative action as a policy matter, this will be reflected in her opinions. And if someone believes that abortion is murder, then, of course, this will be reflected in his judicial opinions. Again, it's utterly banal making this claim.
Yet there are people actually arguing that the religion of a Supreme Court justice will have no view on his jurisprudence. Members of the Supreme Court, just like the rest of us, are a hodge-podge of inconsistent views informed by religion, ethics, culture, and family upbringing. Some, like former Justice O'Connor and Justice Kennedy, have a deeply-rooted belief that it's important to be liked by the intelligentsia. And it showed.
None of us can fully escape our personal views. And when we are making up laws, the temptation to give into those views is that much stronger. That people argue otherwise is truly baffling.