Two Democrat senators attacked the Knights of Columbus in recent questions directed at a nominee for a U.S. District Court post.
Democratic Sens. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Kamala Harris of California took shots at the organization in written questions as part of the confirmation process for Brian C. Buescher.
Buescher, of Omaha, is a lawyer whom Trump nominated to serve on the District Court for the District of Nebraska, according to the Catholic News Agency.
“You reported that you have been a member of the Knights of Columbus since 1993,” Hirono said in one written question. “The Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions. For example, it was reportedly one of the top contributors to California’s Proposition 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriage. If confirmed, do you intend to end your membership with this organization to avoid any appearance of bias?”
Buescher replied, “The Knights of Columbus is a Roman Catholic service organization with approximately two million members world-wide. I have not drafted any policies or positions for the national organization. If confirmed, I will abide by the Code of Conduct of United States Judges and will not affiliate with any organization in violation of the Code.”
Hirono was not done with the Knights.
“If confirmed, will you recuse yourself from all cases in which the Knights of Columbus has taken a position?” Hirono wrote.
Buescher explained that this was a non-issue.
“The Knights of Columbus does not have the authority to take personal political positions on behalf of all of its approximately two million members. If confirmed, I will apply all provisions of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, including Canon 3(C), regarding recusal and disqualification,” he wrote.
Harris referred to the Knights as “an all-male society comprised primarily of Catholic men.” She said the organization is an implacable foe of pro-choice women.
“In 2016, Carl Anderson, leader of the Knights of Columbus, described abortion as ‘a legal regime that has resulted in more 40 than million deaths.’ Mr. Anderson went on to say that ‘abortion is the killing of the innocent on a massive scale.’ Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?” she wrote.
Buescher responded by explaining why he joined the Knights.
“The Knights of Columbus is a Roman Catholic service organization with approximately two million members worldwide. The organization has a religious and charitable purpose. I joined the Knights of Columbus when I was 18 years old and have been a member ever since. My membership has involved participation in charitable and community events in local Catholic parishes. I do not recall if I was aware whether the Knights of Columbus had taken a position on the abortion issue when I joined at the age of eighteen,” he wrote.
Kathleen Blomquist, a spokeswoman for the Knights of Columbus, said the questions reflect anti-Catholic discrimination.
“Our country’s sad history of anti-Catholic bigotry contributed to the founding of the Knights of Columbus, and we are proud of the many Catholics who overcame this hurdle to contribute so greatly to our country,” Blomquist said.
“We were extremely disappointed to see that one’s commitment to Catholic principles through membership in the Knights of Columbus — a charitable organization that adheres to and promotes Catholic teachings — would be viewed as a disqualifier from public service in this day and age,” she said.
Buescher was asked about his unsuccessful campaign for Nebraska attorney general in 2014 when he said he was “avidly pro-life.”
“Why should a litigant in your courtroom expect to get a fair hearing from an impartial judge in a case involving abortion rights?” Democrat Cory Booker of New Jersey asked.
Buescher noted there is a difference between a campaign and a courtroom.
“I did what candidates for any major state or federal office do, which is to take political positions on a variety of issues of the day,” he wrote. “However, there is a difference between taking political positions as a candidate for elective office and serving as a federal judge. I believe a judge’s role and obligation is to apply the law without regard to any personal beliefs regarding the law.”
“If confirmed, I will faithfully apply all United States Supreme Court and Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals precedent on all issues, including Roe v. Wade,” he added.
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