Nancy Pelosi Is “Not Going to Get Into” Defending Religious Liberty?

September 25, 2020

In a recent press conference, Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi refused to rule out engaging in religious tests for public office when looking to fill Justice Ginsburg's vacant seat. When asked by a reporter if Article VI of the Constitution should apply to Supreme Court nominees, Pelosi gave the following reply:

"I'm not going to get into anybody's interpretation of one thing or another," she said. "The confirmation is the work of the Senate and I trust the judgment of our Democrats there to honor the Constitution."

Pelosi's unwillingness to stand up for a clear constitutional tenet reflects her party's similar disregard for religious liberty. In recent days, as the list of leading Supreme Court candidates has narrowed, top Democrats have launched unfair and unconstitutional attacks against Amy Coney Barrett for her Catholic faith, suggesting that her beliefs may render her unfit for public office.

In a story from Yahoo News titled "Amy Coney Barrett: 5 things to know about the potential Supreme Court nominee," two out of five points concerned Barrett's religious beliefs and practices. Multiple outlets have run with the factually incorrect notion that Barrett's parachurch organization, People of Praise, is an oppressive, misogynist group which inspired the religious zealots featured in Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale. Andrew Seidel, a constitutional attorney and activist with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, stated that "There are serious and deep concerns about Judge Amy Coney Barrett's affiliation with People of Praise," and a viral tweet has even suggested that Barrett is opposed to the separation of church and state, despite the fact that Barrett has refuted this accusation on multiple occasions.

This past week is not the first time Barrett has been criticized for her convictions, as she faced similar attacks in 2017 prior to her confirmation to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Among the most infamous attacks came from Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who told Barrett during a hearing that "the (Catholic) dogma lives loudly within you."

While wildly inappropriate for a confirmation hearing, some observers thought this was the best compliment Feinstein could give Barrett. Indeed, what good is faith if it's cabined away and irrelevant from the realities of life? Every day, people of faith strive to see their beliefs impact their neighbors, communities, and society for the better. Barrett is no different. At the same time, she has proven she will be a firm, fair-minded originalist if placed on the high court, deciding cases rather than making law.

Last night, during the Values Voter Summit, I sat down with Gayle Trotter and Bill Pascoe to discuss the impending Supreme Court nomination. Trotter, an attorney, columnist, and host of the Right in D.C. podcast, expressed her shock and disappointment that the Democrats have so clearly swallowed the idea of engaging in religious tests:

"That should be deeply insulting to all Americans. Whether you have faith or no faith, that is a core principle of our government. Under the First Amendment, under the Constitution, there is no religious test for Supreme Court justices. And apparently Senate Democrats forgot about that."

Joining the VVS judicial panel with Trotter to discuss the Court, Bill Pascoe from Tea Party Patriots Action told me he found the attacks against Barrett "disturbing," especially given the fact that the Left used to be "the greatest protectors of religious freedom in this country."

Clearly, the Left is no longer interested in protecting religious freedom. Regardless of who the president nominates to the Supreme Court, conservatives must be ready to defend her against anti-religious bigotry and call out those who refuse to do the same. The intensity of a political or cultural battle is almost always in proportion to what is at stake in the outcome, and in this confirmation battle it is the constitutional rule of law in America. This will be an epic battle.