President Donald Trump nominated Joan Larsen for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Michigan and Amy Coney Barrett for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and both are eminently qualified. Nonetheless, they suffered through irrational questioning when they appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, though their candidacies were moved forward. What became very clear during Barrett’s questioning is the hostility towards Christians. Democrats don’t want Christian judges.
Barrett is a professor of law at the University of Notre Dame and as a practicing Catholic and a lawyer, she’s spoken and written quite a bit on the confluence of faith and work in the public sector.
Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) all took shots at Barrett’s faith and suggested that she wouldn’t be able to do the job of a judge because of her Catholic faith.
“When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country,” Feinstein said. Feinstein is clearly hinting here at the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, a ruling that Feinstein supports so vociferously that she has even called it a “super-precedent.”
What makes this all the more inappropriate is that Barrett said earlier in the hearing, “It is never appropriate for a judge to apply their personal convictions whether it derives from faith or personal conviction.
So-called Catholic Dick Durbin also exposed bigotry towards Barrett’s religion.
Senate minority whip Dick Durbin criticized Barrett’s use of the term “orthodox Catholic,” insisting that it unfairly maligns Catholics who do not hold certain positions about abortion or the death penalty. (Durbin is a Catholic who abandoned his previous pro-life position.)
After Sen. Dianne Feinstein brought up the 20-year old article, titled “Catholic Judges in Capital Cases,” and told Barrett, “the dogma lives loudly within you.” Sen. Mazie Hirono said, “I think your article is very plain in your perspective about the role of religion for judges, and particularly with regard to Catholic judges.”
The article was about the death penalty and the questions were illegal.
Sen. Ben Sasse countered this line of questioning by pointing out that the Constitution prohibits religious scrutiny of public officials. “I think some of the questioning that you have been subjected to today seems to miss some of these fundamental constitutional protections we all have,” Sasse said.
Law professor Carissa Hessick from University of North Carolina was taken aback as well. She called out Durbin and hoped that others would too.
— Carissa B Hessick (@CBHessick) September 6, 2017
These representatives have forgotten Article VI’s admonition that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Officer or public Trust under the United States.”
— Jason Calvi (@JasonCalvi) September 6, 2017
The President of Notre Dame took Feinstein to the woodshed for her “chilling” questions.
“It is chilling to hear from a United States Senator that this might now disqualify someone from service as a federal judge,” Rev. John Jenkins wrote in the letter to the California senator.
Bernie Sanders did the same thing in June when he posed a religious test for Christians. He was concerned about the Christian nominee for deputy White House budget director. Sanders declared about Russell Vought that “this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.”
Sanders has no such religious test for Muslims however.
Ironically, in 2015, Sanders blasted Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson for alleging that Islam and the U.S. Constitution are not compatible, claiming there can be no religious test.