September 07, 2017
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) isn't on the Judiciary Committee -- but he was certainly channeling his religious intolerance to the Democrats who are. In an eerie encore of Sanders's fiery exchange with Trump budget pick Russell Vought, California liberal Dianne Feinstein (D) pounced on the president's nominee to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Amy Coney Barrett, implying (not so subtly) that Christians have no place in public service.
Barrett, a distinguished professor at Notre Dame who clerked for the late Antonin Scalia, was called "controversial" for subscribing to a faith that 91 percent of the current Congress shares. Even so, Feinstein could barely contain her disgust at Barrett's beliefs. "You are controversial," she told the mother of seven. "You are controversial because many of us that have lived our lives as women really recognize the value of finally being able to control our reproductive systems..." Then, in a soundbite that's probably already making the rounds as a Star Wars meme, Feinstein channeled her inner Yoda, insisting, "the dogma lives loudly within you."
"Why is it," she asked rhetorically, that so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling that dogma and law are two different things -- and I think that whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different. And I think in your case, professor, 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... I assume if both of you are on [President Trump's Supreme Court prospects] lists, that you would be a no vote on Roe. That puts a number of us, very honestly, in layman's language, in a very difficult position."
Sounds like the dogma lives within Feinstein too -- not just her anti-religious dogma, but one that honors abortion-at-any-price. To her credit, Barrett replied (like Neil Gorsuch before her) that her beliefs would never supersede the law. "It's never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge's personal convictions on the law. I would never impose my own personal convictions on the law."
Of course, Feinstein's issue isn't that judges impose their personal values on the law -- after all, that's been the modus operandi of liberal judges for decades. Her concern is whose values they're imposing. To their distress, originalists like Barrett have spent their careers in deference to the Constitution and the democratic process. That's problematic for a party whose entire strategy rests on the courts rewriting the law to suit their purposes. Unlike the Left's judicial nominees, Barrett understands her role. And for voters, who've been stunned to watch judges discover things like abortion and same-sex marriage in the invisible ink of the Constitution, Barrett's philosophy is a welcome one.
In a gratuitous nod to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) tried to paint Barrett as a hater, linking her to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), one of SPLC's favorite targets. At issue was a lecture the Notre Dame professor gave at ADF on constitutional law. "When you actually take a look at ADF's work," Franken critiqued, "it's clear the group's real purpose is to advance an extreme view of society. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, describes ADF as [one]." It was a desperate attempt to try and prop up the liberal activist organization whose connections with domestic terrorism are raising lots of questions about why the mains stream media uses them as a source. ADF is one of the largest religious liberty legal groups in the country. To suggest that speaking to them is like endorsing the neo-Nazis is outrageous. "I had no reason to think it was a hate group and that was certainly not my experience," Barrett replied.
Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), meanwhile, thought it was the Senate's business to find out just how religious Barrett is. "Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?" he probed (seconds after insisting that "going into a person's religion is not the right thing to do in every circumstance"). Trump's nominee responded without flinching. "If you're asking whether I'm a faithful Catholic, I am -- although I would stress that my own personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear on the discharge of my duties as a judge."
As Christians, including the 485 self-described ones in the 115th Congress, our light is supposed to shine. In order to meet this new standard the Left is working hard to impose across all levels of society, every believer would have to hide that light under a bushel. That's a direct attack on religious freedom -- one that no American, least of all a U.S. senator, should tolerate. A person's faith should in no way disqualify them for public service. But unfortunately, despite the uproar after Sanders's memorable rant that Christians are not "who this country is supposed to be about," the modern-day inquisition continues. At least one conservative, Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebr.), came to Barrett's defense, apologizing that "some of the questioning that you have been subjected to today seems to miss some of these fundamental constitutional protections we all have."
Join us in supporting the religious liberty of not just Amy Barrett, but every American, by signing our petition to the U.S. Senate, urging it not to oppose nominees based on faith. Then, check out my interview with Fox News's Tucker Carlson about conservatives' open letter to the media about Al Franken's friends at SPLC.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.