On Monday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) issued a challenge to his Democratic colleagues in the U.S. Senate. He mentioned Notre Dame law professor Amy Coney Barrett, a nominee for a federal judgeship who faced questions about her faith from Senate Democrats. Senators actually asked her if she was an “orthodox Catholic,” suggesting that if she was, she shouldn’t be confirmed.
“There’s an opportunity for every Democrat voting to decide where he or she stands, are you part of establishing an unconstitutional religious test contrary to Article VI of the Constitution? Are you part of saying the Democratic Party does not welcome orthodox Catholics?” Cruz asked. “Or will you stand for religious liberty and religious faith?”
“It is my hope that Professor Barrett will be confirmed one hundred to zero,” the Texas senator declared. He said Barrett’s confirmation is “not a test of the nominees, it is a test of the United States Senate.”
Cruz recalled “a time when anti-Catholic bigotry could regularly be heard in the halls of Congress, a time when former leaders of the Klan were treated as respected members of the Senate.” He spoke of legal barriers to Catholics in society.
“I think a great many of us had hoped we had put those dark days behind us,” the senator declared. “And yet we are seeing a re-emergence of that same hostility to faith and that same hostility to the Catholic Church.”
Cruz presented concrete examples: “The previous administration persecuted the Little Sisters of the Poor in a way that was truly indefensible. And today in this Senate, we have seen repeatedly nominees grilled not for their qualifications, not for their records, but for their faith.”
After recalling that Amy Coney Barrett was grilled on being an orthodox Catholic and having the “dogma live loudly within” her, Cruz lamented, “It’s almost as if we’ve gone back decades in this institution’s history.”
The Texas senator noted that “today’s Democratic Party is not the party of JFK anymore. Today’s Democratic Party is much more secular, it happily embraces atheists.”
“But if the message of Democrats is, ‘Catholics need not apply,’ if the message of Democrats is, ‘Evangelical Christians are unfit to serve in office,’ if the message of Democrats is, ‘It’s ok if you serve so long as you are not, in the word of one Democratic senator an orthodox Catholic,’ that is a sad, sad testament to where this body is,” Cruz declared.
In light of this, the senator urged his colleagues to demonstrate that the Senate has not reverted to a “Catholics need not apply” state of mind. By voting for Barrett, they could confirm that the Senate does not apply an unconstitutional religious test.