Commentary

Breaking Ranks? Dem Senator Blasts Party's Treatment of Barrett's Religion

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Since approximately one minute after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death was announced on Friday, politicians on both sides of the aisle have been voicing their opinions about filling her seat just weeks before the next presidential election.

President Donald Trump has said he will nominate a potential replacement at the end of the week. The left has already started a smear campaign against one of the candidates thought to be at the top of Trump’s shortlist, Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Their biggest gripe so far? Barrett’s Catholic faith.

At least one Democratic senator disagrees with the attacks on Barrett’s religion, according to Fox News. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said on Wednesday that Barrett’s faith should not be part of a discussion of her qualifications for the Supreme Court.

“I’m Catholic, OK. And religion should not enter into it. It sure doesn’t with me,” Manchin told “Fox & Friends.”

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Manchin cited the First Amendment to back up his position: “The freedom of religion is one of the basic rights we all have as an American citizen.”

“Whether you’re Catholic, whether you’re Protestant, whether you’re Jewish, evangelical, whatever it may be, God bless you. You worship who you want and you worship how you want. You worship the same God. All of us do,” he said.

Manchin is right: All Americans, including Supreme Court justices, have a constitutional right to practice the religion of their choice. In fact, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment — including hiring and firing — based on a candidate’s religion.

Do you agree that a judicial nominee's religion is irrelevant to their confirmation?

Perhaps even more importantly, the Senate’s constitutional duty with regard to federal judges is to “advise and consent” — not to tear apart the life and reputation of potential justices in order to keep them off the court because of ideological differences.

The Democrats already showed their willingness to attack Barrett’s Catholicism during the 2017 hearings on her nomination to the 7th Circuit. At one point, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California raised eyebrows when she told Barrett “the dogma lives loudly within you.”

In truth, neither a potential justice’s religion, nor his or her political leanings or gender or race, should be relevant to a judge’s confirmation.

The only relevant consideration should be the nominee’s judicial qualifications.

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Barrett has been a circuit judge for almost three years. Has she ruled fairly during her time on the bench? Are her rulings reasonably based on the Constitution and legal precedent?

Those are the considerations that actually matter.

Nevertheless, the left would have us believe Barrett is unfit for the country’s highest court because she is a devout Catholic — and in particular because she is pro-life.

That’s ridiculous, of course. Joe Biden is Catholic, too (though he’s been denied communion because of his support for abortion). So is Nancy Pelosi.

If it’s OK for leading members of the executive and legislative branches to be Catholic, it should be OK for members of the judiciary.

It’s refreshing to see a Democrat who is willing to stand up to the hatred that is festering in his own party, not to mention taking a pre-emptive stance against the unconstitutional religious tests his party is going to apply to Barrett if she is nominated.

That’s not to say Manchin will vote for Barrett, or whoever Trump’s nominee ends up being, when the time comes. He’s already said he doesn’t support filling the vacant Supreme Court seat until after the election. But it’s still nice to see a Democrat who isn’t afraid to break from the party line.

Regardless of who Trump nominates, Republicans need to be ready for unconstitutional and personal attacks against the nominee.

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Erin is a freelance writer and attorney based in Colorado. She is a graduate of Truman State University and the University of Oklahoma College of Law.
Erin is a freelance writer and attorney based in Colorado. She is a graduate of Truman State University and the University of Oklahoma College of Law.




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