14 responses

  1. Richard, it certainly should make someone uncomfortable when one does not know what the Red Mass is all about, tantamount to a lawyer arguing a case with law to cite and never does. I am surprised at you. Surely you make no connection between Red and Communism? I mean, there are idiots out there who with just that tidbits of a statement might think that.

    As you like to close, All the Best


  2. No it does not make me slightly uncomfortable, it enrages me. But those of us who believe in separation of church and state lost that battle long ago. Judge, I don’t agree with you about many things, as my comments have shown. But on this one, we are full accord.

    Also, perhaps you might share your thoughts on that nasty and ugly abortion decision from your state Supreme Court the other day….

    All the best.

  3. Steve,

    Since September of 2011, I recuse myself from all abortion cases because of my history with partial-birth abortion litigation and other abortion matters (see here), and because this blog is not really intended to discuss state cases, I will keep my thoughts to myself on the substances of the Nebraska decision except to say that I have the highest respect for each and every judge on the Nebraska Supreme Court. I know each and everyone of those judges to be committed to applying the law straight up, and, whether they were right or wrong, I see no reason to think the Justices deviated from that path in the case you mention.

    All the best.


  4. Not really Judge. Of course, I’m a catholic. 🙂 I have organized Red masses before. We always make certain everyone knows they are not a bar function or a government sponsored function. If that is not being done in Washington DC, It should be. Otherwise even I might be uncomfortable with it. Dean

  5. The Red Mass doesn’t bother me as long as it’s voluntary. Four of the nine Supreme Court Justices are Catholic and they (along with their non-Catholic brothers and sisters) should be able to go if they want.
    But, I am slightly uncomfortable with ministers of religion performing state functions like marriages. Marriage after all is a state function requiring a license from the state. On the other hand, I had a church wedding 42 years ago and it took.

  6. Tom,

    Let me provide a minor correction to your comment, which does not in any way detract from the validity of your views. That is, according to Tony Mauro (in the article for which a link is provided in the post): “On the current court, six justices are Catholic and three are Jewish, with no Protestants since John Paul Stevens retired in 2010.”

    Frankly, I would be uncomfortable if nine atheists attended a Red Mass, particularly a Mass held as a marker to the beginning of the Supreme Court’s term. In the end, this is a small thing. In the greater scheme of things, religious rituals like this don’t hurt anyone. So you, and others, would be perfectly justified in telling me get a life.

    All the best.


  7. Rich, no it doesn’t make me uncomfortable. In fact, we have one at Creighton, and I was the one who revived the tradition. It’s utterly voluntary. Quite a few judges and lawyers show up, but many do not. We believers pray for divine guidance of all courts for the upcoming term. The homilies (sermons) are never directed at any particular issue (abortion, capital punishment, etc.), but even if they were I assume that judges still have the fortitude to follow their own convictions regarding the legal result in any particular case. It seems to me that about the most negative thing one could rationally say about it is that if one is a non-believer that it’s a waste of time. Frankly, I’m a lot more uncomfortable with the Supreme Court attending the State of the Union address and listening to the President critique particular decisions of the Court. I have noticed that since Alito’s visible reaction to Obama’s blasting of the Citizens United decision that attendance by the Justices has been on the light side. In a world where the judicial branch depends on the political branches for funding, having the head of the Executive Branch using that as a bully pulpit makes me a lot more uncomfortable. Best, Pat.

  8. Tom, I disagree with you. For sure the state issues the licenses, and if performed in a courtroom, such as at the end of sentencing a criminal to life in prison for murder, asking for his civil rights to be respected, and a state court judge or notary obliges, that is most certainly completely all state governed. But for Roman Catholics and non-catholics alike but of Judeo-Christian background the ceremony is definitely not a state function. It is100% religious, ergo separation of state and religion.

  9. Pat,

    As I said in earlier response to a comment by Tom,”you, and others, would be perfectly justified in telling me to get a life.”

    The President’s attack on the Court in the State of the Union address was contemptible. Law is not politics by another name, and a brilliant person as well trained in the law as our President knows that to be true. So, I agree with you about being more discomforted by the Justices attendance at the State of the Union address. In the end, I suspect I just don’t like judges attending ritualistic events that are not judicial in nature, and that is true whether they be political or religious in nature. But, as I say, that’s my petty little quirk.

    All the best.


  10. It doesn’t bother this lay person (in several senses of that phrase) one bit. We are, after all, a Christian nation, with a strong Judeo aspect to our Judeo-Christian heritage (our Christianity having brought along, at the time, that Judeo-ism, to coin a word, with it).

    Most of the signers of both our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution were church-educated, if only because the vast majority of colleges and universities of the time were church institutions, and several of those signers were ordained ministers.

    I’m not threatened at all because one of my government official employees attends a religious ceremony. Since us employers are a committee of some 250 million Americans, that certainly puts you employees in a bit of a box, but this committee member isn’t troubled.

    Eric Hines

  11. The only thing that is out of the ordinary for me, as an Orthodox Christian, is that the event is an annual one. It seems (I just did a brief Google out of curiosity) that the Red Mass has some hundreds of years of tradition in the Western Church too. While we do have annual events in Orthodoxy, they tend to be more closely tied to the religious calendar (such as the blessing of the waters at Theophany). We do, however, pray explicitly for all public servants and leaders at every Divine Liturgy. So, although I learned something new as far as an annual event in the Roman Catholic Church, the fact of church service prayers for judges is not odd to me at all.

    And I really have no issue with a believing Catholic attending such an event, even a member of the judiciary. If the prayers belong to such a person’s faith and practice, why shouldn’t he? I don’t see any appearance of impropriety in sincere religious piety.

  12. Virgil,

    To be crystal clear regarding judges attending the Red Mass, I don’t see anything remotely approaching an “appearance of impropriety” as that term is used when we speak about judicial ethics. The same goes for religious piety. On the contrary, the post related to my aesthetic sensibilities, and nothing more (or less). To be concrete, attendance at the Red Mass makes me feel slightly uncomfortable in the same way that Chief Justice Rehnquist’s gold-stripped robe made me feel slightly uncomfortable. “So what,” you say. “Fair point,” I reply.

    Thanks for your views. All the best.


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