Trump judicial nominee denies she'd put her faith above the law

Trump judicial nominee denies she'd put her faith above the law
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

President Trump’s nominee to the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals fought back Wednesday against a liberal group’s claims that she would put her religious beliefs above the rule of law if confirmed to a lifetime seat on the federal appeals court. 

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Notre Dame Law Professor Amy Coney Barrett pushed back on a report from the Alliance for Justice that that says she believes a judge "does not have an obligation to faithfully apply the Constitution or laws when she personally disagrees with them."

“That is not true,” Barrett said when Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchRead Senate GOP's tax bill Senate panel to start tax bill markup on Monday Senate set for clash with House on tax bill MORE (R-Utah) quoted the Alliance for Justice report.

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“I totally reject and have rejected throughout my entire career the proposition that the end justifies the means or that a judge should decide cases based on a desire to reach a certain outcome," she said.

The Alliance for Justice report cites a 1998 law review article that Barrett co-authored. The article states, “we believe that Catholic judges (if they are faithful to the teaching of their church) are morally precluded from enforcing the death penalty. This means that they can neither themselves sentence criminals to death nor enforce jury recommendations of death.”

The group called Barrett’s testimony a “point-blank lie.”

“Look at our report. It quotes Coney Barrett directly,” Daniel Goldberg, Alliance for Justice's legal director, told The Hill. 

“This isn’t our characterization of her words. Our report very clearly quotes her directly. Her words are the best evidence of how dangerous she would be as a appellate court judge and despite her best efforts today she can’t hide her record from the American people.”

Hatch accused the group of distorting her record, though he did not name the group specifically. 

“I think it really hurts a group’s credibility when it so seriously distorts a nominee’s clear record, which they have done,” he said. “In your case this misinformation is so blatant that it almost looks like, well, deliberate. It’s also disturbing when groups suggest that someone like you, who takes their religion seriously, cannot be an impartial judge.” 

Barrett said she sees no conflict between having a sincerely held religious faith and duties as a judge.

“Were I confirmed as a judge, I would decide cases according to the rule of law beginning to end,” she said. “In the rare circumstance that might ever arise, I can’t imagine one sitting here now, where I felt some contentious objection to the law, I would recuse. I would never impose my own personal convictions upon the law.”