Religious bigotry from Senate Democrats shouldn't hold up the confirmation process

Religious bigotry from Senate Democrats shouldn't hold up the confirmation process
© Greg Nash

As the Senate shuffled forward last week to confirm a director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and an ambassador to the Holy See, the position of deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) remained unfilled. So, too, did a seat on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

These are critical positions in running the government. The OMB, in particular, oversees and manages the federal budget, regulations, and agency initiatives.

What makes these nominations significant, however, is the indifference shown by Republican leadership to the overt religious bigotry these nominees are suffering at the hands of Democrats.


Both Russ Vought, President Trump’s nominee to deputy director of OMB, and Amy Coney Barrett, nominated to the 7th Circuit, have been subject to outright harassment for their religious faith.


In Vought’s confirmation hearing, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Campaign Report: US officials say Russia, China are looking to sow discord in election Warren urges investment in child care workers amid pandemic Progressive candidate Bush talks about her upset primary win over Rep. Clay MORE (I-Vt.) charged Vought with Islamophobia because of his Christian belief that faith in Jesus Christ is necessary for salvation. This is a conviction shared by millions of evangelical Christians around the world as fundamental to their faith.

But according to Sanders, the consequence of this belief — that those groups who do not believe in Christ, including Muslims, will not achieve salvation — constitutes bigotry, and thus renders Vought unqualified to hold public office. 

Never mind that many Muslims might say the same thing about Christianity. Or the fact that Vought’s disagreement is with the theological belief of Muslims, not, as Sanders claimed, a proxy for viewing them unequally — a point Vought made clear when he outlined his view that, as a Christian, he believed all individuals deserved to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their religion.

To that end, Sanders could learn a few things.

Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s highly qualified pick for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, faced similar discrimination. Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Yates spars with GOP at testy hearing Democrats want Biden to debate Trump despite risks MORE (D-Calif.) disqualified Barrett as “controversial” for what Feinstein declared was a “dogma” that “lives loudly within you.”

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinOn The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic MORE (D-Ill.) followed with his suspicions that because Barrett was an “orthodox Catholic,” she was unqualified. Following Durbin’s reasoning, a Catholic judge who takes their faith seriously cannot be trusted to follow the law.

For Feinstein and Durbin, it seems that the only appropriate type of personal religion is one that comes in small doses. Anything more than a personal commitment to secularism is, to quote Feinstein, “of concern.”

Such lines of questioning are dismaying in their intolerance and shocking in their intention.

It’s one thing to take issue with bigotry. It is wholly another to try and exclude people from office based on their theological convictions. 

Article IV of the Constitution specifically prohibits religion as a threshold test for public service. Yet, multiple Democrat senators — individuals sworn to protect and uphold Constitutional values — openly flirted with the boundaries of this rule.

To these Democrats, a neutral public square must be a secular public square. This is a “thin and sickly sort of pluralism,” and one that silences the millions of people who have acted throughout history to change the world, moved to do so by their religious principles.

Vought and Barrett are certainly not the only nominees awaiting confirmation, but their nominations have become totems for the anti-religious crusade of the left.

The only answer to this unconstitutional and deeply troubling strain of liberal thinking is swift confirmation of both Vought and Barrett by the Republican Senate.

The longer the Senate leadership allows these claims against Vought and Barrett to linger, the more they grow complicit in legitimizing the religious bigotry to which both were — and continue to be — subject.

These confirmations become all the more urgent when one considers that Democrats, for all their talk, actually have no means of blocking them. Senate Democrats can drag out confirmation votes, but they can no longer filibuster nominations.

Given this, continued delays represent a disservice to the president, and to the voters that elected them.

Yet the Senate continues to dawdle. While the rest of the Washington is at work this week, the Senate is on yet another week of vacation.

When they return, the Senate leadership must prioritize these nominations. Both Vought and Barrett must be at the very top of their list.

Rachel Bovard (@RachelBovard) is the senior director of policy for The Conservative Partnership, a nonprofit group headed by former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint aimed at promoting limited government.