President Trump’s nominee to the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has been confirmed by the Senate. The vote was along party lines and could prove incredibly problematic to Senate Democrats in purple and red states who are facing voters.
In September, Amy Coney Barrett faced questioning by Senate Democrats during her confirmation hearing that some are saying was possibly illegal. Several Democratic Senators verbally took issue with the Notre Dame law professor’s choice of religion – Catholicism.
Senator Dianne Feinstein challenged Barrett on a paper she wrote 20 years ago titled “Catholic Judges in Capital Cases.” The paper discussed judges with religious beliefs opposing the death penalty deal with those cases and how they can recuse themselves from those cases.
Even though Barrett’s paper read, “Judges cannot-nor should they try to align our legal system with the Church’s moral teaching whenever the two diverge,” Feinstein condescendingly attacked Barrett’s religion as a reason against her confirmation. “The dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein said in response to the paper.
“I think your article is very plain in your perspective about the role of religion for judges, and particularly with regard to Catholic judges,” Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono said.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin took this anti-Catholic bias even further. The Illinois Senator asked Barrett if she is an “Orthodox Catholic.” Durbin, who tells voters he is Catholic, has been denied Communion for his support of abortion.
Senator Ben Sasse jumped into this line of questioning by asserting the line of questioning by these Democrat Senators was unconstitutional and violates the religious test clause.
This was not a fight the Democrats were ever going to win, but they still made the decision to attack Barrett’s Catholicism. This has opened a possible wound for Democrats in blue and purple states who are facing voters next year.
Sherrod Brown is one of those vulnerable Democratic Senators. He represents Ohio, which swung heavily to President Trump last year. He votes in lockstep with the left. Brown’s votes mimic Elizabeth Warren’s a whopping 95% of the time. This on its own won’t sit well with voters in this swing state who recently have been consistently voting for Republicans.
When contacted by phone for comment regarding the alleged violation of the religious test clause, Brown did not reply. A follow-up email to Brown staffers Rachel Petri and Charissee Ridgeway was not acknowledged. Coupling this information with Sherrod Brown’s vote against Amy Coney Barrett, it’s easy to hypothesize that Brown agrees with his colleagues that a devout Catholic does not belong on the court.
With over 17% of Ohioans identifying as Catholic, his objection to Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination could be used in micro-targeted campaigns directed at Catholics. This could be catastrophic for the two-term Senator and Democrats in similar positions.
Warren’s constituency is 45% Catholic. If played correctly, this could also be problematic to her 2018 re-election. But the blowback might not be as swift for her as Massachusetts voters tend to be more forgiving to leftists.
Democrats have a religious problem. Pandering to people of faith is going to prove even more burdensome to them after the perceived religious bigotry they threw at this Catholic during the nomination process. Voters supporting religious liberty might be the determining voices that send them packing.