- - Sunday, September 17, 2017


Dianne Feinstein is one of the few independent Democratic voices left in the U.S. Senate. She’s a former mayor of San Francisco, and knows a nut when she sees one, and as the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee she has learned things there that would sober anyone but the most dedicated peacenik.

So it was particularly sad to see Mrs. Feinstein join the chorus of radical Democrats who would impose the religious test for public office expressly forbidden by the Constitution. Blocking President Trump’s judicial nominees is the right of the Democrats in the Senate, but they must use legitimate means to do it.

Mrs. Feinstein confronted Amy Coney Barrett, the president’s nominee for the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, to defend her Roman Catholic faith at a confirmation hearing last week. Mrs. Barrett is a law professor at the University of Notre Dame and has written and lectured extensively about the role of faith in public life

This makes Mrs. Barrett “controversial,” and her views on abortion mightily offend Sen. Feinstein, for whom the right to abortion is the holiest of rights. She has called Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that made an abortion a Constitutional right, not just a precedent but a “super-precedent.

“You are controversial,” she told Mrs. Barrett, “because many of us [who] have lived our lives as women really recognize the value of finally being able to control our reproductive systems.” Mrs. Barrett, as the mother of seven children, obviously passed up seven opportunities to control her reproductive system in the way Mrs. Feinstein approves.

“When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,” the senator told her, “and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for, for years in this country.”

Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois chided Mrs. Barrett for using the term “orthodox Catholic” to describe faithfulness to theological doctrine, saying it maligns Catholics like himself who do not hold certain positions on abortion and the death penalty. Sen. Durbin once held anti-abortion views himself.

Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii told Mrs. Barrett that “I think [your articles] are very plain in your perspective about the role of religion for judges, and particularly with regard to Catholic judges.” Indeed, Mrs. Barrett has been plain-spoken enough about her perspective that even a senator from Hawaii, California or Illinois could understand: “Judges cannot, nor should they try, to align our legal system with the church’s moral teaching whenever the two diverge.”

Some Democrats in Congress, like voices in the media, have been on a tear to make private religious belief suspect. In June, Sen. Bernie Sanders, the newly crowned conscience of the Democrats (of whom he is not even officially one) rebuked Russell Vought, the president’s pick for deputy budget director, for statements made about Islam.

Mr. Vought wrote on a conservative blog called “Resurgent,” that in his view “the fundamental problem” of Islam is that “Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology” but rather “do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned.” This is in line with the teaching in every Christian catechism, and Muslims hold similar beliefs about the supremacy of their faith. No one in America is required to agree.

Nevertheless, Mr. Sanders, whose own religious beliefs have been challenged, imagines himself and his partisan colleagues as arbiters of what everyone is allowed to believe. The word for this is bigotry, and it has no place in the public square. If Mrs. Barrett is confirmed and takes her place on the bench, and betrays her oath by imposing her religious belief on the law, she could and should be impeached. Until then certain senators should honor their own oaths.

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