Ad Exposes Democrats’ ‘Catholic Judges Need-Not-Apply’ Attitude

Conservative activist group launches campaign blasting apparent religious test for judicial nominees

A conservative activist group on Friday launched a six-figure ad campaign highlighting a religious litmus test some Democratic senators appear to be applying to President Donald Trump’s Catholic judicial nominees.

The ads, sponsored by the Judicial Crisis Network, will run over the next 10 days on digital platforms.

The ad highlights questioning by Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) of Notre Dame University law professor Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s choice for the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“This is going to be known as Feinstein’s Folly. Her line of questioning reeked of ‘No Catholics Need Apply,’ while ignoring Professor Barrett’s stellar qualifications, experience, and fierce commitment to defending the Constitution,” Judicial Crisis Network chief counsel and policy director Carrie Severino said in a prepared statement. “Feinstein was fundamentally at odds with our constitutional commitment to religious freedom, not to mention politically tone-deaf.”

The ad refers to questions by Feinstein and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) at Barrett’s confirmation hearing last week.

“You refer to orthodox Catholics,” Durbin said at one point. “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?”

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Feinstein added: “The conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you.”

An announcer in the ad accuses the Democratic senators of mocking Barrett’s faith even though they are “afraid to call radical Islam radical Islam.”

The ad concludes with a call to action: “Tell the Democrats. Stop the hypocrisy. End the religious tests. Don’t attack Catholics for being Catholic.”

The point of Feinstein’s questioning was to get at Barrett’s views on Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision guaranteeing the right to abortion. As is customary of judicial nominees, Barrett declined to comment on her views about the case.

So Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, probed her allegiance to the Catholic Church, which considers abortion a sin.

“And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country,” she told Barrett.

Although he is not targeted by the ad, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) also suggested a link between Barrett’s personal views and how she would rule on the law.

“To sit here and pretend that there is no role for people’s personal and private views … when they go to the court — it’s just, it’s so preposterous as to be silly,” he said.

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) referred to a paper Barrett co-authored exploring the question of whether Catholic judges should recuse themselves from cases involving capital punishment.

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“In spite of the fact that you had written in an earlier article that Catholic judges — and you would be a Catholic judge — you would not recuse yourself from death-penalty cases?” she asked.

The Feinstein-led line of questioning drew a sharp rebuke from Notre Dame University President John Jenkins.

“It is chilling to hear from a United States Senator that this might now disqualify someone from service as a federal judge,” he wrote in a letter to Feinstein. “I ask you and your colleagues to respect those in whom ‘dogma lives loudly’— which is a condition we call faith.”

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