Six Justices Attend Red Mass

I know, “red mass” sounds like something out of a bad novel about satanism. It’s actually an annual event held by the John Carroll Society at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, DC, on the Sunday before the opening of the new Supreme Court term every year.

This year, 6 of the 9 justices attended: John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Elena Kagan, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer. Two Jewish justices attending a Catholic mass? Yep. I don’t get it either. Especially when the archbishop who presided over the event told the justices to “strive to be instruments of a new evangelization.” Hell no. That isn’t their job. Their job has nothing to do with evangelizing anyone. That’s your job, not theirs.

The Red Mass has taken place since 1953 and the attendance of justices varies. Justice Ginsburg used to attend but no longer does because in the past the priests have preached against abortion rights. Justice Sotomayor, who is Catholic, attended last year but not this year. Justice Alito is also Catholic and has attended in the past, but not this year.

We shouldn’t make too much of this. It’s a mostly meaningless bit of symbolism. But as symbolism, it’s still rather disturbing.

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  • Of course it’s meaningless symbolism, Ed; just like that giant frikkin’ cross out in the desert, “One nation, under GOD!” or “E Pluribus Unum” on the currency. The only way it would be meaningful is if any of it was not meaningless in a KKKristianiist sortaway.

  • ambulocetacean

    Well, it sounds slightly more exciting than the big pet-blessing event at an Anglican church in Brisbane today:

    Numbers at the services could reach up to 30 with some parishioners preferring to bring in a photo although pets are welcome inside the church.

    The Reverend Canon Dr Marian Free said there have been some odd candidates show up over the years.

    “When I was in a country parish I blessed a couple of woodlice,” she said.

    Amazing that not even the prospect of witnessing a crustacean consecration can get more than 30 people to a church.

  • When it comes to “blessing” crustaceans, I’m gonna be wearin’ a lobster bib*.

    * Not really, I detest the fucking things and I usually eat lobster with something that requires shucking the meat.

  • cry4turtles

    This sounds like something Ozzy Osborne would be involved in. Oh wait…that was black masses. Tomatoe…tom aaah toe.

  • Michael Heath

    Given the path Antonin Scalia’s been taking, I’m waiting for the year where he’s the preacher at this event.

    Ed – a blog post on J. Scalia’s recent and incoherent argument about gay marriage, abortion, and the death penalty would be most welcomed. Recently he once again re-asserted his frame of reference as that of a textualist but then immediately contradicted that approach by arguing:

    “The death penalty? Give me a break. It’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state,” Scalia said at the American Enterprise Institute.


  • Mike —

    That post is already written, should be up in the next day or two.

  • Chiroptera

    Michael Heath, #5: For 200 years, it was criminal in every state,” Scalia said at the American Enterprise Institute.

    If I recall correctly, so was discrimination against Catholics.

    I’m just sayin’, is all.

  • Chiroptera

    Oops. I meant, that discrimination against Catholics wasn’t criminal in every state.

  • grumpyoldfart

    We shouldn’t make too much of this. It’s a mostly meaningless bit of symbolism. But as symbolism, it’s still rather disturbing.

    It seems to me when Catholic judges get told by their archbishop that they should “strive to be instruments of a new evangelization,” then there is a chance that they might be inclined to obey – and much should be made of it.

  • StevoR

    Red mass?

    Wait a second.. Wasn’t that the techno-gimmicky stuff used in that last Star Trek – the movie reboot by that Lost the plot guy?

    So these Supreme Justices are coming together* to create, what, a black hole out of exotic matter or summin?


    * Hey, your mind came up with that image not mine!

  • dingojack

    A Red Mass eh? So that’s where all those pinko activist judges come from. I keep telling ’em don’t put yer black ‘n white judges in with yer red bishops, but will they listen to me…?

    😉 Dingo


    PS: ambulocetacean – if the rev. canon is ‘a bodacious babe with bosoms and a bob’, it could be that those journos were just watching a old re-run of The Vicar of Dibley

  • Moggie

    Can you imagine the reaction if a prominent imam invitied the supremes to a similar event at a mosque?

  • @12:

    Yes, Maggie, I imagine it quite easily. It would likely involve the 21st century equivalent of grain flails, pitchforks and torches.