Sunday, October 11, 2020


U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett boasts solid-gold credentials: tops in her class at Notre Dame, a clerkship with Justice Antonin Scalia, black-robed experience on the federal bench and a heart for the human condition earned while mothering seven children. A solid Catholic upbringing rounds out her resume, but some political warriors angling to block her path to the high court fear her faith would overshadow their secularism. Efforts to stymie Judge Barrett’s nomination should not succeed.

As Senate Judiciary hearings over Judge Barrett’s prospective elevation to the high court open Monday, Democrats are still reeling over the loss the seat long occupied by the recently deceased Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The most hysterical among them have made clear that they will grasp any weapon, including the nominee’s religious affiliation, to halt or at least slow the process.

Democratic senators are expected to virtually crawl through the Zoom conference screen to confront the judge over her judicial views, and her Catholicism. It would not be the first time. During her 2017 confirmation hearing for 7th U.S. Court of Appeals, California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein tore up the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom in telling Judge Barrett, “The dogma lives loudly within you.”

Repetition of similar bias could reflect “progressive” calculus that there is more to gain than lose in slighting persons of faith in 21st century America. Sadly, trendlines lend some logic to this strategy. The proportion of Americans identifying as Christians fell from 77% to 65% during the decade ending in 2018, according to a Pew Research Center survey, while the share calling themselves “religiously unaffiliated” rose from 17% to 26%.

Such strategy carries a political risk, though. While the portion of Americans claiming Catholic loyalties has slipped from 24% to 20%, the church’s membership is equally split between the two major political parties. The share of U.S. Catholics who identify or lean Republican is 48%; Democrat, 47%, according to Pew.

With voter attention razor-sharp during the 2020 presidential campaign season, attempts to trash the reputation of a woman of Catholic conviction could rile the sensibilities of Republicans and Democrats alike. Moreover, Americans with faith affiliation across the religious spectrum recoil at the political left’s judicial touchstone: a woman’s right to choose between life or death for her unborn baby up to the moment of birth.

In nominating her to the nation’s highest bench, President Trump praised Judge Barrett as “a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials, and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution.” Additionally, it is respect for human life that “lives loudly within her” and that undergirds her qualifications to serve as a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. It is only secular bias that objects.

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