It’s a subtle brushback pitch, to be sure, but that’s Mike Pence’s style. In a clip from ABC’s interview with the Vice President released this morning, Linsey Davis asks about whether Donald Trump will promise a repeal of Roe v Wade with his next Supreme Court nominee. Pence ignores that to offer a tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg and then promise that the nominee to be announced on Saturday will follow in Antonin Scalia’s footsteps on judicial restraint and originalism.
When Davis tries to bring up Amy Coney Barrett’s affiliation with a Catholic group, however, Pence shuts it down by reminding her of the “intolerance” Barrett faced over her faith:
Vice Pres. Mike Pence tells @LinseyDavis in an exclusive interview that potential Supreme Court pick Judge Amy Barrett is an "extraordinary jurist," and criticizes "intolerance" about her faith he says was expressed in her last confirmation hearing. https://t.co/NBZLdj2VKw pic.twitter.com/PoNRL7Ofg9
— ABC News (@ABC) September 24, 2020
DAVIS: It’s been reported that Amy Coney Barrett is a top contender for the Supreme Court job. There has been some scrutiny from some about her alleged affiliation with a religious group, People of Praise in Indiana. Some people have suggested that they have practices that many Americans might find extreme. Do you feel that there is any concern that she would be able to potentially keep this covenant with the organization at the same time serve the American people independently and objectively on the Supreme Court?
PENCE: Judge Barrett is an extraordinary jurist, and she’s among a number of women who are currently under consideration by the president of the United States. But I must tell you that the intolerance expressed during her last confirmation hearings about her Catholic faith, I really think was a disservice to the process and a disappointment to millions of Americans. Judge Barrett and other judges currently under consideration, we have every confidence, are exactly the kind of jurists that the president has appointed from early in this administration.
Oddly enough, ABC didn’t include Pence’s reference of “intolerance” in their report on the interview. Perhaps that’s because they published a deep dive into the old People of Praise issue this morning, with some of the same old nonsense about the group and its supposed connection to The Handmaid’s Tale, which has recently been debunked:
As U.S. Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s name has emerged atop a list of possible replacements for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, her long affiliation with a small, Charismatic Christian community in Indiana has drawn fresh attention – in part due to the group’s historical use of the term “handmaid” to describe its female members.
The ecumenical organization, People of Praise, has fought to distance itself from comparisons to the oppressive fictional religious order in the Margaret Atwood book and television adaptation, “The Handmaid’s Tale.” But to Andrew Seidel, a constitutional attorney with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the symbolic comparisons to Atwood’s dystopian narrative invite real and important questions.
“There are serious and deep concerns about Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s affiliation with People of Praise and her past comments about the conflict between faith and law,” Seidel said. “Not only is her connection to this community and her previous writings fair to ask about, but senators have a duty to the constitution to ask those questions.”
As might be said in court, asked and answered. This issue came up in her previous Senate confirmation hearing, in which Dianne Feinstein solemnly intoned that “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s a concern.” That blew up in the face of Senate Democrats at the time, who spent days trying to backpedal from essentially attempting to enforce a religious test for the Supreme Court. Feinstein eventually resorted to the “some of my best friends are Catholics” defense, but the issue faded off the screen in 2017.
It won’t go away as easily a couple of weeks before an election in which Democrats hope to recapture the Catholic vote away from Trump with Joe Biden’s candidacy. If they’re smart, they’ll find a line of attack that has nothing to do with faith, but that would require them being smart.