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Justice Alito Chafed by Catholic Question

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U.S. Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito expressed annoyance Tuesday with questions about whether Roman Catholics, who form a majority on the high court, would allow their religious beliefs and upbringing to interfere with their legal decisions.

Alito, a Roman Catholic and reliable member of the court's conservative bloc, broached the subject in his speech to the Justinian Society, an Italian-American law group, in Philadelphia, according to the Associated Press.

Alito complained about "respectable people who have seriously raised the questions in serious publications about whether these individuals could be trusted to do their jobs," according to the AP. He said he believed the question was settled centuries ago with the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom.

The George W. Bush appointee is one of six justices on the nine-member court who were raised Catholic, including Chief Justice John Roberts and the newest member, Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Some have speculated how that background might affect the justices' perspective on issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

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