Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and other Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned whether the Catholic faith of a judicial nominee would disqualify her from carrying out the duties of her intended office.
Feinstein told Notre Dame Law School Professor Amy Coney Barrett, who has been nominated by President Donald Trump to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, 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.”
— Jason Calvi (@JasonCalvi) September 6, 2017
Feinstein was referring to abortion, though her question was based on a law review article written by Barrett in 1998 that argued that Catholic judges who object to the death penalty should recuse themselves from cases in which it is a possible sentence because “litigants and the general public are entitled to impartial justice.”
Article VI of the U.S. Constitution provides that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States,” yet Feinstein and other Democrats on the panel effectively imposed a religious test on Barrett. It was the second time in recent months that the opposition had attempted to do so: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) asked Russell Vought, nominated for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, about his Christian belief that salvation comes only through Jesus, as if that would be disqualifying.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who also raised Barrett’s faith as an issue, questioned her use of the phrase “Orthodox Catholic” in the 1998 article. Durbin noted that he, too, is Catholic. (Feinstein is Jewish.)
Barrett stated, “I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear on my duties as a judge.”
When then-candidate Dr. Ben Carson said in 2015 that he would not vote for a Muslim as president because of the potential that sharia law would conflict with the Constitution, there was a nationwide media frenzy of outrage.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.