At Barrett Hearing, Only Republicans Talk About Religion
Senate Republicans have claimed for weeks that Democratic attacks on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett's faith are just around the corner — but the only people at her confirmation hearing talking about Barrett's faith were Republicans.
Monday was the first day of Barrett's controversial confirmation hearing. During opening remarks, exactly seven senators mentioned her Catholic faith: Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE).
During the hearing, Grassley said that in 2017, when Barrett was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the Democrats suggested Barrett was "too faithful" or "too Catholic" to be a judge.
"One senator asked whether she considered herself an orthodox Catholic," Grassley said. "Another (Sen. Dianne Feinstein) told her, 'The dogma lives loudly within you and that is of concern.'"
According to Grassley, that's unacceptable.
"Let me remind everyone that Article I clearly prohibits religious tests for serving in public office," he thundered at his fellow senators, none of whom had mentioned religion.
Sasse, too, was full of dire warnings to the Senate and to Barrett herself.
"Your faith, or your lack of faith, are none of the government's business," he said.
Hawley decried "anti-Catholic bigotry" at work against Barrett.
"As if you can't be a devout Catholic and a loyal American," Hawley said, though no one had questioned it.
Not one Senate Democrat mentioned Barrett's religion during Monday's opening remarks.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee issued a statement after Donald Trump announced Barrett's nomination. It mentioned concerns about her stance on health care, Roe v. Wade , and LGBTQ rights, but nary a word about her Catholic faith.
In fact, prominent Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden — both Catholic themselves — have explicitly stated questions surrounding Barrett's faith are irrelevant.
Two weeks ago, Pelosi told Jake Tapper on CNN's State of the Union that Senate Democrats weren't worried about Barrett's religion.
Asked by Tapper if questions about Barrett's faith should be off-limits, Pelosi agreed they should.
"It's appropriate for (Senate Democrats) to ask how faithful she would be to the Constitution," Pelosi said, but added that Barrett's personal faith "doesn't matter."
She added that her primary concern was Obamacare, not Barrett's religious convictions.
"What I am concerned about is anyone that ... Trump would have appointed was there to undo the Affordable Care Act," said Pelosi. "That is why he was in such a hurry."
Biden, also a practicing Catholic, told reporters Monday that Senate Democrats shouldn't concern themselves with Barrett's religious beliefs.
"No, I don't think there should be any questions about her faith," he said , adding that nobody's faith "should be questioned."
In 2011, Biden defended Mitt Romney against accusations that his Mormon faith should disqualify him from the presidency.
"I find it preposterous that in 2011, we're debating whether or not a man is qualified or worthy of your vote based on whether or not his religion ... is a disqualifying provision," Biden said at the time.
If elected, Biden would become only the second Catholic to be president in the history of the United States, with the first being the late President John F. Kennedy.
Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) — who Hawley framed as an anti-Christian bigot in his opening remarks Monday — identifies as a Black Baptist, a Protestant Christian denomination, and attends Third Baptist Church of San Francisco.
Five other Catholics sit on the Supreme Court: Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
While only one Senate Democrat voted to confirm Kavanaugh, 59 voted to confirm Sotomayor, 22 voted to confirm Roberts, 11 voted to confirm Thomas, and four voted to confirm Alito.
Of the 22 Catholics currently in the Senate, 12 are Democrats and 10 are Republicans.
Senate Democrats have been clear that Barrett's faith is not in question. But her legal philosophy and judicial record are fair game.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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