WASHINGTON – In the hours and days after President Donald Trump announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his US Supreme Court nominee last month, Republican lawmakers and conservative groups launched widespread preemptive attacks against any criticism of Barrett’s Catholic faith by Democrats .
During three days of hearings on her nomination this week, the Democrats barely touched the issue.
The Republicans’ preemptive counter-offensive arises from questions Barrett faced in 2017 as a candidate for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Those questions and comments ̵
In their opening speeches and questions to Barrett this week, the Democrats urged them whether it would be a vote to be overturned or rejected Roe v. calf, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that established a nationwide right to abortion. Democrats also asked her about anti-abortion statements she had signed in the past. But they did not focus on their beliefs or bring up their religious practices as a Catholic.
However, Republican members repeatedly brought their religion to the hearings in an attempt to tackle questions about Barrett’s religion that never came.
“You are Catholic,” Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Barrett on Tuesday, raising a number of questions about her faith. She replied that she was. Graham asked if her beliefs meant “a lot” to her personally to confirm that she had raised her family Catholic and if she could give up her religious beliefs when considering cases as a judge. Barrett answered yes to each of his questions.
“This is the first time in American history that we have nominated a woman who is outrageous for life and who accepts her belief without apology and goes to court,” Graham said on Wednesday.
Senator Marsha Blackburn praised Barrett as “Pro-Life, Pro-Family, Pro-Religion”. Senator John Kennedy asked if Barrett would keep the oath she would take if he were confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice to support and defend the Constitution regardless of religion. she said she would.
Senator Josh Hawley brought up Barrett’s beliefs several times, saying on Wednesday: “There is nothing wrong with endorsing a devout Catholic, real-life Christian to the United States Supreme Court.” Hawley moved on at some point when Barrett was ready to discuss her beliefs. On a series of questions defending an anti-abortion statement Barrett signed as a law professor in 2006, Hawley asked Barrett whether the statement “reflected your understanding of the teaching of your Church and your personal views.”
Barrett refused; She said that while the statement reflected her views as a private individual almost 15 years ago, now that she was a civil servant, she said, “I don’t think it’s appropriate to have a positive view at this point because of the behavior cannon. “
No member of the committee, Republican or Democrat, asked Barrett about her reported membership in the People of Praise, the close-knit charismatic Christian community that received considerable press attention ahead of their confirmation hearings.
Vice President Mike Pence had also raised the specter of Democrats attacking Barrett’s belief in his debate with Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, last week. Harris, who also sits on the Judiciary Committee, called the suggestion that she or former Vice President Joe Biden would do so “offensive”, noting that both are “people of faith” and that Biden will only be the nation’s second Catholic President would. Harris also did not bring up the issue during her remarks or interviews with Barrett this week, instead focusing on healthcare and the coronavirus pandemic.
Hawley accused Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of persecuting Barrett’s beliefs for asking her about speeches she made at the Blackstone Legal Fellowship, a program for Christian law students sponsored by Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal advocacy group. Leahy asked if Barrett was aware that the group had supported the “recriminalization of homosexuality.” ADF filed briefs with the Supreme Court in 2003 in support of state anti-sodomy laws and has supported such laws in other countries. Barrett said she wasn’t.
“Whether you think it’s right or wrong to be gay is irrelevant to me. But I worry that you are working with an organization that criminalizes people for loving someone they are in love with. So that’s what worried me, ”said Leahy.
Barrett replied that she “did not read all of the material given to students to read”.
“I enjoyed teaching the students what was my specialty, which was constitutional law, and nothing about my interactions with anyone involved in the Blackstone program ever indicated any kind of discrimination on the basis of anything,” Barrett said .
She declined to indicate how she would rule on abortion-related cases as a Supreme Court judge and said it was inappropriate to speculate or wire on how to rule on issues that might come to court , and that doing so would violate the rules of ethics by which she is bound as a judge at the lower court.
She said she didn’t think so roe and the subsequent decisions on abortion rights were so decided that the case was an inviolable “super-precedent.” Barrett had used the term in her writings as a law professor to refer to a small group of important Supreme Court cases such as: Brown v Board of Education, the 1954 decision that put down racial segregation in public schools.
“I answer a lot of questions about roewhich in my opinion indicates roe does not fall into that category, ”Barrett responded Tuesday to questions about Senator Amy Klobuchar’s case. “And scientists across the spectrum say that doesn’t mean that roe should be overridden, but descriptively it means that it is not the case that everyone has accepted and does not demand its repeal. “