- The Washington Times - Monday, October 12, 2020

A top Democrat said Monday that his party will not target Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Catholic faith during this week’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

And Sen. Richard J. Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the chamber, also shot down speculation that Democrats would try to boycott a floor vote on Judge Barrett, saying he hadn’t heard that idea and he was committed to voting.

Speaking after the first day of a week of proceedings, Mr. Durbin said the battle over Judge Barrett is not about a “judicial philosophy” but rather the real-world impact they predicted if she is on the court next month, when an Obamacare case reaches the justices.

“It is life or death for thousands, if not millions, of Americans,” Mr. Durbin said. “We believe the ACA is hanging in the balance. We will drive that issue home.”

Democrats predicted Judge Barrett will be a critical fifth vote in a looming case over whether the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 health law also known as Obamacare, is still legal now that the tax penalty for noncompliance has been reduced to zero. The tax was the crux of the 2012 ruling that first upheld Obamacare.

During opening statements Monday, each Democrat brought a photo of an Obamacare customer they said would be put in dire straits if the law were to be struck down.

Republicans, meanwhile, spent much of their time warning that opposition to Judge Barrett was because of her Catholic faith. Indeed, news accounts about the judge have been replete with coverage of her faith and her ties to a charismatic Christian organization.

In her 2017 hearing to a seat on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Barrett did face just those sorts of questions, with one Democrat calling her a “Catholic judge” and another saying that “dogma lives loudly within you.”

Mr. Durbin, in that 2017 hearing, also followed that line of questioning, prodding whether Judge Barrett was an “orthodox Catholic” and whether she thought Pope Francis was a “good Catholic.”

But on Monday Mr. Durbin, when asked whether faith would be an issue, insisted that won’t be a line of attack in these hearings, which are drawing far more attention than three years ago.

“We have taken an oath to a Constitution, which says no religious test. Enough said,” Mr. Durbin said.

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