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Barrett hearings day 1: Healthcare and anti-Catholicism take center stage

By Matt Hadro for CNA

Judge Amy Coney Barrett before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Oct. 12, 2020. (Credit: C-SPAN)

Washington D.C., Oct 12, 2020 / 01:30 pm (CNA).- As Senate Democrats on Monday focused on how Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett could rule on the Affordable Care Act, some comments drew criticism for apparent anti-Catholic bigotry.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday held the first in a series of hearings to consider the nomination of Seventh Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Barrett is a Catholic mother of seven children, including two adopted children, and formerly taught at the University of Notre Dame law school.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), in his opening statement in the confirmation hearings for Barrett, warned that Barrett’s confirmation could lead to some previous Supreme Court rulings being overturned in the future, including Griswold v. Connecticut which found a right to contraception.

The comment triggered a rebuke by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who saw Coons’ warning about contraception being at risk as an “another hit” on Barrett’s Catholic faith, given the Church’s teaching against contraception. Hawley said that the assertion was unfounded, as the Griswold decision has not been challenged in decades.

Monday’s hearing consisted of opening statements from committee members, and from Barrett herself, as well as Indiana senators and a former dean of the University of Notre Dame Law School. Subsequent hearings will feature senators asking questions of Barrett and of other witnesses summoned to testify about her nomination.

Barrett, in her opening remarks, said that she believed “Americans of all backgrounds deserve an independent court that interprets our Constitution and laws as they are written.” She also said that policy decisions should not be left to the Court.

“The policy decisions and value judgements of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the People,” she said.

Senate Democrats on Monday focused most of their statements on the supposed threat that Barrett’s confirmation would pose to the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

In 2017, Barrett authored an essay that was critical of Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision to uphold the law’s individual mandate, which she said “pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute.” The “individual mandate” was the law’s requirement that American adults purchase health insurance.

The latest challenge to the ACA will be heard by the Court on Nov. 10, in the cases of California v. Texas and Texas v. California.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking minority member of the committee, warned that “women could lose access to preventative services and critical maternity care, including cancer screenings and well-woman visits” if Barrett was part of a future Court majority in striking down the ACA’s mandate.

Other senators, including Coons, said that previous Supreme Court rulings in favor of contraception, abortion, and same-sex marriage could be at risk with Barrett’s confirmation.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the Democratic vice presidential nominee, said that a “right to safe and legal abortion is at stake.”

Some Senate Republicans, including Hawley, on Monday decried what they saw as unseemly attacks on Barrett’s religious beliefs by Democrats and members of the media.

Barrett’s membership in the ecumenical group People of Praise has been the subject of recent news articles, including in The Guardian which called the group “secretive” and in the Washington Post, which noted Barrett’s position of “handmaid” in People of Praise, a biblical term.

Democrats on Monday focused their statements on health care, but have made recent suggestions that while Barrett’s religion is “irrelevant” to her confirmation, her faith-based views on issues such as abortion deserve scrutiny.

“Her faith is irrelevant,” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) said of Barrett at a Sept. 30 press conference. “What the real issue her is whether her closely-held views can be separated from her ability to make objective, fair decisions with a lifetime appointment.”

The group Americans United for Separation of Church and State tweeted on Monday during the hearing that the Constitution forbids religious tests for nominees, but that it “ALSO prohibits lawmaking based on a narrow minority’s religious beliefs, right?”

Republicans on Monday pointed to previous hostile questioning of Barrett by some committee senators in 2017, when Sen. Feinstein told Barrett her religious views were “of concern” when Barrett was being considered for the Seventh Circuit Appeals Court.

Feinstein told her that “when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.” At that hearing, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) cited Barrett’s writings to ask her what she thought an “orthodox Catholic” looked like.

“This committee isn’t in the business of deciding whether the dogma lives too loudly within someone,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said Monday.

Hawley also brought up Harris’ questioning of several judicial nominees on their membership in the Catholic fraternal men’s organization Knights of Columbus, in 2018. Other judicial nominees, he said, faced questions from Democrats on their views on sin and the afterlife, as well as other matters.

Harris’ questions about the Knights of Columbus were examples of “the very terminology” of historic anti-Catholic bigotry making a resurgence, he said.

“That is an attempt to bring back the days of the religious test.”

Sixty-five million Americans are Catholics, Hawley noted, asking if they are “to be told that they cannot serve in public office” unless committee members “sign off” on their beliefs.

Sasse said that the committee cannot decide “which religious beliefs are good and which religious beliefs are bad and which religious beliefs are weird.”

Identifying as a Christian, he said that “we got a whole bunch more really weird beliefs” such as forgiveness of sins, the virgin birth of Christ, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and eternal life.

“There are a whole bunch of really, really crazy ideas that are a lot weirder than some Catholic moms giving each other advice about parenting,” he said in a shot at media reports on Barrett’s membership in People of Praise.


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9 Comments

    • Actually I don’t think that is the main point of hysteria. Democrats believe it is good policy to have judges who feel free to ignore laws and regulations ad libitum, and to issue rulings to make the law demand according to their personal beliefs. Abortion is just one of many, many policies that have been surreptitiously enacted “into law” in this manner, completely independent of the legislative and executive branches. To hear Blumenthal and Biden and Harris accuse the Republican appointees of doing this (“legislate from the bench”) is offensive beyond words. They do not want Republican appointees because every seat filled by a sane, rational textualist is an opportunity taken away from them to impose their totalitarian oligarchy on the nation and our future. That is why they will fume and lie until their mouths are foaming with excrement in attempt to block people who are not on board with their agenda.

  1. Let Amy do it!

    Mary, Queen of the Universe, we pray for your intercession on her behalf.

    We pray for the conversion of the left.

  2. The two most grievous sins of the socialist/democrats and MSM,are their love affair with Abortion & Obamacare.Now that the Country is close to removing them both from Gods admonition to turn away from this evil. Satan’s shock troops are “hellbent”on stopping this from happening.

  3. “Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), in his opening statement in the confirmation hearings for Barrett, warned that Barrett’s confirmation could lead to some previous Supreme Court rulings being overturned in the future, including Griswold v. Connecticut which found a right to contraception.

    “The comment triggered a rebuke by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who saw Coons’ warning about contraception being at risk as an “another hit” on Barrett’s Catholic faith, given the Church’s teaching against contraception. Hawley said that the assertion was unfounded, as the Griswold decision has not been challenged in decades.”

    In fact, if the Supreme Court is to be completely intellectually and legally honest in reversing its “exercise(s) of raw judicial power” (completely unjustified anywhere in the U.S. Constitution or in the natural law and right reason and common sense which underpin that Constitution) in its 1973 decisions in the cases of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, which will topple quite a few dominoes which have followed those two decisions over the past 47 years (and counting), right up to Bostock v. Clayton County and its allied cases, then the U.S. Supreme Court will, indeed, have to revisit – and reverse – its similarly unjust, unjustified, unjustifiable, and downright wrong decisions in the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut case (in which 7 members of the Court (only Hugo Black and Potter Stewart dissented) effectively divorced procreation from the marriage act by judicial fiat) and in the 1972 Eisenstadt v. Baird case (in which 6 members of the Court (only Warren Burger dissented; William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell took no part in the consideration or in the decision, being brand-new to the Court) effectively divorced not only procreation, but also marriage itself from the marriage act).

    In his excellent 2014 book “Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything,” Robert R. Reilly quite clearly, lucidly, intelligently, and correctly traces the decades-long moral slide via the Supreme Court’s legislating immorality from the bench all the way back to those two decisions on contraception – 8 years before Roe v. Wade. And, indeed, Mr. Justice William O. Douglas’s majority opinion in the Griswold case (and the three concurring opinions to that majority opinion – written by Mr. Justice Arthur Goldberg, Mr. Justice John Harlan, Jr., and Mr. Justice Byron White) quite clearly laid the philosophical and legal framework for Mr. Justice Harry Blackmun’s majority decision in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. One sees the same resorting to non-existent “penumbras” found in the Constitution, an imaginary “right to privacy” found nowhere in the Constitution, and the contortion of a number of both the letter and the original clearly-stated intentions of a number of constitutional amendments (in Griswold, primarily the 9th and 10th and 14th amendments) in Griswold in 1965 and in Eisenstadt in 1972 as one would find in Roe and in Doe in 1973.

    And THAT is what really frightens the people who purvey and push the eating of apples from the forbidden tree and the drinking deep of the Rev. Jim Jones blend of grape Kool-Aid which are part and parcel of the culture of hedonism and the culture of death: not merely that the tissue-paper-thin house of cards of lies and deception and destruction and degradation all the way back to abortion will come falling down, but that the first two cards comprising that house – namely, those two long-ago horrible and infamous decisions on contraception – will come crashing down with them.

  4. Blatantly mixing politics with religion defies the rule. Our Supreme Court is supposed to be a branch of the government that is apolitical. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The reason: Fact: a president brands a new justice candidate with his political ideology which subjects the candidate to favor his/her leaning right or left. Notice that time has proved that each justice is considered right or left. Right is assumed to mean Republican and left is Democrat. I call that “painting with a wide brush because it might cause backsplash. That dichotomy further advances social divisiveness. Today, we are far from normal discourse, conciliation and agreement. (eg. Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill provided a unique platform that has disappeared)

    Religious liberty, a constitutional guarantee, should never be challenged. Conversely, religion should not influence a secular society. It goes both ways. Evangelism breaks that rule. President Kennedy, when pressed on his Catholicism influencing his decisions, said that “he was not running for religious office”.

    • “Conversely, religion should not influence a secular society.”

      Said Marx, Lenin, and Co. That certainly was never the belief of the Founders. Or the Church. Try again.

    • MorganB – Your posts are getting more and more disconnected from reality with each new topic. It might be a good idea for you to find another hobby.

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