On Wednesday, Democratic senators continued to apply a religious test to another of President Donald Trump’s nominees. In June, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) applied an unconstitutional religious test to Russell T. Vought. This week, at least three Democratic senators similarly questioned federal judicial nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
“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, for years in this country,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the judiciary committee, declared.
— Jason Calvi (@JasonCalvi) September 6, 2017
Feinstein’s comment seemed to be a thinly veiled attack on Barrett’s position that the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade — which legalized abortion throughout the 50 states — was wrongly decided. Feinstein, who supports abortion, asked then-Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch if he considered Roe a “super precedent” that cannot be reversed.
Barrett, a professor at Notre Dame Law School, holds the orthodox Roman Catholic position that life begins at conception. Even so, she made clear earlier in the hearing that she would not overturn legal decisions based on personal opinion.
“It is never appropriate for a judge to apply their personal convictions whether it derives from faith or personal conviction,” Barrett declared.
Even so, Feinstein and other Democratic senators attacked her faith.
Senate minority whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) questioned Barrett’s use of the term “orthodox Catholic,” suggesting that it unfairly insults Catholics who do not oppose abortion or the death penalty, positions held by the Roman Catholic magisterium, the final authority on Catholic doctrine. Durbin himself is a Roman Catholic who abandoned his previous pro-life position.
“Are you an orthodox Catholic?” he asked Barrett.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) also commented, “I think your article is very plain in your perspective about the role of religion for judges, and particularly with regard to Catholic judges.”
In another exchange, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) repeated talking points from the defamation organization the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which labels mainstream conservative and Christian nonprofits “hate groups.” His questions ran like an inquisition into Barrett’s ties with the “hate group” that advocates for religious freedom.
National Review‘s Alexandra DeSanctis pointed out that these attacks echo the concerns of a report from the Left-wing Alliance for Justice, which alleged that Barrett “would put her personal beliefs ahead of the law” if confirmed as a federal judge.
Such claims are unsubstantiated, however. Indeed, Barrett has explicitly written that “judges cannot — nor should they try to — align our legal system with the Church’s moral teaching whenever the two diverge.” Furthermore, she has even insisted that judges recuse themselves in situations when their faith conflicts with their judicial responsibility.
Each of these attacks against Barrett echoed Bernie Sanders’ slight against Vought, but were more cleverly concealed.
In June, Sanders took issue with Vought’s religious beliefs. The senator asked Vought, “You wrote, ‘Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God beause they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned.’ Do you believe that that statement is Islamophobic?”
In response, Vought explained that he is a Christian who believes in “the centrality of Jesus Christ for salvation.”
Sanders persisted, however, asking, “Do you believe people in the Muslim religion stand condemned?”
To this, Vought reiterated, “Senator, I’m a Christian.” It seemed that Bernie Sanders had no idea what that means.
“As a Christian, I believe that all individuals are made in the image of God and are worthy of dignity and respect regardless of their religious beliefs,” Vought explained.
Frustrated and running out of time, Sanders concluded, “I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about.”
Sanders questioned Vought’s eligibility to serve in government because he thinks that only Christians will be saved. This was applying a religious test to public service, something explicitly prohibited in the Constitution.
Democratic senators essentially applied the same test to Barrett. As a pro-life Roman Catholic, who insists that only pro-life Catholics are “orthodox,” which is technically true, Barrett represents a threat to the pro-abortion party, especially to nominal Catholics like Durbin who disagree with the Catholic Church’s doctrine on life.
Barrett’s belief on abortion disqualifies her for public service in their eyes, regardless of her constant insistence that she will not allow her personal beliefs to interfere with her work as a federal judge.
If Democrats insist that neither pro-lifers nor people who believe Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation can serve in government, they will disqualify a huge portion of the American public.
Click “load more” to watch Al Franken’s questioning about the Alliance Defending Freedom.