Fact Check: Kamala Harris Attacked Trump Catholic Court Nominee over Knights of Columbus Membership

CLAIM: Vice President Mike Pence accused Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) during the debate Wednesday evening of attacking one of President Donald Trump’s Catholic court nominees because he was a member of the Knights of Columbus.

VERDICT: True. In December 2018, Harris and fellow Democrat Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI), both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, harassed U.S. District Court nominee Brian C. Buescher and suggested he should be disqualified from consideration because he was a member of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic charitable organization.

During his response to a debate question about the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Pence expressed his hope that Barrett’s Catholic faith would not be attacked during the confirmation hearings.

The vice president said:

And we particularly hope that we don’t see the kind of attacks on her Christian faith that we saw before … the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee before … when, when, Judge Barrett was being confirmed for the Court of Appeals expressed concern that “the dogma of her faith lived loudly in her” … I know one of our judicial nominees, you actually attacked because they were a member of the Catholic Knights of Columbus, just because the Knights of Columbus holds pro-life views.

During Buescher’s confirmation hearing, Harris and Hirono asked whether someone who was a member of the Knights of Columbus would be unable to decide cases involving issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage “fairly and impartially.”

Harris asked Buescher if he knew the Knights of Columbus “opposed a woman’s right to choose” and were against “marriage equality” when he chose to join the organization.

After Buescher’s hearing, the Knights of Columbus from the Capitol Hill area wrote an open letter, noting the statements by Harris and Hirono, asserting their organization “held many extreme beliefs,” are “not grounded in any truth.”

The Knights explained the charitable work they do, including organizing donations of winter coats for children, and providing diapers and other newborn supplies to low-income new mothers.

“We wish to formally invite you all to join us for any social or charitable event,” the Knights offered.

According to Fox News, Ken Blackwell, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, called the behavior of Harris and Hirono “thuggish” and what might be expected from “third world dictators.”

“That this attack on Catholics comes from the party of John F. Kennedy, who was proudly a Knight of Columbus, is particularly shocking and egregious,” Blackwell added.

Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with The Catholic Association, said to Breitbart News Harris “has come to be a ringleader of the anti-Catholic bullying that increasingly defines the Democrat party.”

Harris, she said, “has built a career out of opposing the work and values of Catholics.”

McGuire gave the examples of Harris “harshly prosecuting a whistleblower for exposing Planned Parenthood’s criminal sale of aborted baby body parts,” and then of “supporting efforts to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to violate their beliefs and provide employees with abortion pills, for example.”

“One can only expect her to continue to do so in an elevated position of power,” McGuire added. “It is equally disappointing to see Joe Biden tout his Catholic faith while picking as his running mate someone who has made her anti-Catholic bona fides clear.”

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