Senate

Hawley warns Schumer to steer clear of Catholic-based criticisms of Barrett

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a rising star on the Judiciary Committee and outspoken critic of Roe v. Wade, sent a letter Saturday to Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) warning him and other Democrats to refrain from criticizing Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on the basis of her Catholicism.

Hawley, who has advocated for a nominee with a record of skepticism toward Roe v. Wade, called on Democrats to steer clear of any attacks that target Barrett’s religious beliefs.

“I call on you and every member of the Democratic Caucus to publicly reject Senator Dianne Feinstein’s egregious personal attacks on Judge Barrett’s Christian faith during her previous confirmation hearings, and to pledge you will abstain from that kind of anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, anti-faith vitriol in the hearings to come,” Hawley wrote in a letter to Schumer.

Hawley’s statement is a reference to Barrett’s 2017 Senate confirmation hearing for her appointment to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, told the nominee: “The dogma lives loudly within you.”

Barrett was pressed by Democrats on the Judiciary Committee over whether her Roman Catholic faith would unduly influence her decisions.

Catholic teaching strongly rejects abortion and frowns upon the use of birth control to prevent conception.

Democrats suspect that Barrett’s religious beliefs may affect her view of Roe v. Wade, which the judge suggested in a 2003 legal article was an “erroneous decision.”

Hawley noted in his Saturday letter that Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), another member of the Judiciary Committee, asked Barrett during her 2017 confirmation hearing if she was an “orthodox Catholic” and that Sen.Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), who also sits on the panel, suggested she would be a “Catholic judge.”

“Your caucus has sought to return to the days of ‘religious tests,’ to exclude people of faith from public office and from the public square,” Hawley wrote to Schumer.

The GOP senator asserted that Senate Democrats “have attacked and attempted to disqualify nominees by questioning their views on the nature of sin, their beliefs about heaven and hell, their memberships in religious organizations, and the activities of their churches.”

“But our Constitution bans religious tests. Democrats’ offensive and wholly inappropriate attacks must not be repeated in this confirmation process,” he wrote.

A recent New York Times profile of Barrett noted her previous career teaching law at the University of Notre Dame, a Catholic school, and her reported affiliation with People of Praise, a group that grew from the Catholic charismatic renewal movement and is associated with speaking in tongues, belief in prophecy and divine healing.

During a 2006 commencement, the Times reported, Barrett told graduating students: “If you can keep in mind that your fundamental purpose in life is not to be a lawyer, but to know, love and service God … you truly will be a different kind of lawyer.”

Senate Republicans anticipate Barrett’s Catholic faith will again become front-and-center in the Supreme Court confirmation battle.

Hawley on Saturday warned against what he called “a growing tide of anti-religious animus on the Left.”

“These attacks and insinuations remain disgusting. Religious bigotry has no place in the United States Senate. I ask that you and all your colleagues reject your past acts of intolerance, and commit to considering Judge Barrett’s nomination on the merits of her qualifications, not by slandering her faith,” he wrote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) communication center on Saturday circulated a memo titled: “Will Democrats continue to attack Judge Barrett’s religions?”

The document highlighted comments by Feinstein, Durbin and Hirono during Barrett’s 2017 confirmation process.

Feinstein told Barrett at the time that many Democrats “have this very uncomfortable feeling that, you know, dogma and law are two different things.”

“And I think whatever religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different,” she said.

Asked last week by a reporter whether Barrett’s religious view should be off-limits during the confirmation process, Hirono told CNN: “No.”

Democrats are focused on Barrett’s 2018 dissent after the full 7th Circuit chose not to review a three-judge panel’s ruling that struck down an Indiana law prohibiting abortions performed because of the sex or disability of the fetus.

Barrett suggested in the dissent that she may have ruled the state law constitutional.

Democrats are also looking at a dissent Barrett joined in October that attempted to reconsider a three-judge panel ruling that affirmed a preliminary injunction against a law that would have required women under age 18 to obtain parental consent to get an abortion.  

Updated Sept. 27, 1:41 a.m.

Tags Abortion Amy Coney Barrett Catholicism Charles Schumer Dianne Feinstein Dick Durbin Josh Hawley Mazie Hirono Mitch McConnell Religion SCOTUS US Supreme Court

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