Some religious liberty groups are sending a shot across the bow to U.S. senators, warning against any religious prejudice that may infiltrate potential Supreme Court vacancy hearings, should President Trump choose Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
“Democrats tried making Amy Coney Barrett’s faith disqualifying during her confirmation hearing for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals when they attacked her Catholic beliefs,” said Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with the Catholic Association, a group of laypersons. “We call upon all senators and elected officials to reject applying religious tests for public office.”
Tony Perkins, the head of the conservative Family Research Council, also issued a statement in defense of the federal appeals court judge and former Notre Dame law professor.
“Barrett has made clear in multiple statements that her Catholic faith does not dictate her duties as a judge, but this still has not stopped those on the Left from imposing what amounts to a religious test,” Mr. Perkins said.
In 2017, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, questioned Ms. Barrett, then a law professor, observing that Catholic “dogma lives loudly within you.”
Religious groups at the time said the comments smacked of anti-Catholic bigotry.
On Wednesday, journalism professor and former Boston Globe columnist Eileen McNamara wrote a post for WBUR public radio in Boston also calling out critics who might spotlight Judge Barrett’s faith.
“Why do we keep reading that Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a ‘devout Roman Catholic?’” Ms. McNamara wrote. “So is Joe Biden.”
Liberals have sounded the alarm that the next justice might provide a needed swing vote to the conservative bloc to overturn abortion rights precedents, including the pivotal Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision federalizing abortion access. While the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has stated its hopes to reverse Roe, other Supreme Court justices who are Catholic have not always voted in opposition to legal abortion. Justice Sonia Sotamayor, a Catholic, has repeatedly voted to uphold abortion protections.
Other Roman Catholic justices on the court include Justice Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, as well as Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
President Trump has said he will announce on Saturday his pick to fill the high court seat opened by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 18. Judge Barrett, who serves on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is one of the favorites to fill the seat. Another is Judge Barbara Lagoa, who serves on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and is also a practicing Catholic.