Hath Not a Catholic Eyes?

How would it be if we questioned Dianne Feinstein's ability to serve as a senator because she is Jewish? After all, "You know, dogma and law are two different things. And I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different." So said the senator in her recent questioning of Notre Dame law professor Amy Barrett, a Trump nominee for the Seventh District Court of Appeals, and a believing Catholic. Of course, Senator Feinstein's hostility to Catholic dogma — including the divinity of Christ — might be seen as an expression of her own Jewish dogma, denying Christ's divinity. We might say to the senator what she said to Professor Barrett: "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." As a liberal Jew, for instance, the senator might deny that our founding guarantees of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" apply to children in the womb — a principle large numbers of people have indeed fought for for years.

But of course — of course — it would be despicable, disgusting and deeply unAmerican to question Senator Feinstein in this way. Not because religious dogma can't be questioned. All ideas can be questioned and attacked. And it's not because there isn't a danger of dogmatic religious people imposing their dogma on our secular government. I for one wouldn't allow a Muslim who believed in the abomination of Sharia to come anywhere near an American bench because the very idea of Sharia is antithetical to the underlying principles of American law.

No. It would be disgusting and unAmerican to attack Senator Feinstein on the basis of her Jewishness because it violates the very principles of our founding, so deeply connected to Judeo-Christian thought. Article Six of the Constitution explicitly states that all public servants, including judges, "shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." In other words, once it is established that a candidate for public office does not hold beliefs that prevent him from swearing allegiance to the Constitution (as a belief in Sharia would), his religion is none of your damn business.

In the case of Professor Barrett, the truth is clear. Senator Feinstein was questioning the professor on an article she wrote as a 26-year-old law clerk in 1998. The article examined what religious judges should do if they could not decide a case according to secular law in good conscience. Her answer was that they should recuse themselves. “Judges cannot—nor should they try to—align our legal system with the Church’s moral teaching whenever the two diverge,” she wrote.