The Red Mass

As a Catholic law student living in Washington, D.C., I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this past Sunday was the annual Red Mass. The Red Mass is a Mass for those involved with the law – judges, prosecutors, attorneys, law school professors, law school students, and the like. As a group, I suppose we need extra prayers – I’ve never made it to a Red Mass, because I’ve been judging at Lafayette’s tournament all three years. Although various cities celebrate the Red Mass, D.C.’s is the most famous, in part because it’s been going on for some fifty years (it’s the work of the Catholic lawyer’s group, the John Carrol Society, which Justice Roberts , but more likely, because it’s the one attended by the Catholic members of the US Supreme Court: and occassionally, the non-Catholic ones, like former Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Stephen Breyer. Justice Bader-Ginsburg, after hearing a homily she felt was too pro-life (“outrageously anti-abortion, in her words), vowed never to return. This year, for the first time ever, Catholics make up a full 2/3rds of the Court, and five of the six* were present:

  • Chief Justice John Roberts,
  • Justice Antonin Scalia,
  • Justice Anthony Kennedy,
  • Justice Samuel Alito Jr., and yes,
  • Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the newest member of the court, was in attendance.

In addition, Vice President Biden was there, as were Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Officiating was Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Texas, who was the first to voice his disappointment about the Notre Dame scandal.

By the way, the Cathedral is pretty close to the White House (perhaps a ten minutes walk), and about ten minutes from where I work. It’s a beautiful Cathedral that really does draw the spirit upwards. A few pictures of the event are here. Enjoy!

*As Hmyer noted, Justice Thomas was at a wedding, and was unable to attend.


  1. “This year, for the first time ever, Catholics make up a full 2/3rds of the Court, and all six of them were present”

    Judge Thomas was not present.

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