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New York Times Joins Campaign Against Catholic Judicial Nominee


In early September, the Senate held a confirmation hearing for Amy Coney Barrett, a Notre Dame law professor nominated for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Sen. Dick Durbin grilled her about her use of the term “orthodox Catholic” to describe those who try to practice the teachings of her church.

“Do you consider yourself an ‘orthodox Catholic’?” asked Durbin of Illinois, himself a Catholic, taking issue with Barrett’s use of that term to describe those who strive to align their lives fully with their church’s teachings. Hawaii’s Sen. Mazie Hirono suggested Barrett would be beholden to Catholic teaching when deciding cases.

California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein famously said, “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.”

Yesterday The New York Times continued the religious test of Amy Coney Barrett with a hit piece headlined in the style of a Donald Trump tweet:

The article is written by religion reporter Laurie Goodstein, and is not of her typical caliber. It begins by attempting to exculpate the senators who grilled her by blaming Barrett for their questions. She suggests that they were not bigots but only asking Barrett legitimate questions that arose from her writing. It was really her fault she was asked about the dogma living loudly within her, because she had failed to cleanse all of her scholarship at the University of Notre Dame from mention of religion.

Then the story darkly suggests that she was not being truthful when she said she could be a fair appellate judge, because she’s a member of a group that the senators would have liked to grill her about even more had they known she was a member:

Ms. Barrett told the senators that she was a faithful Catholic, and that her religious beliefs would not affect her decisions as an appellate judge. But her membership in a small, tightly knit Christian group called People of Praise never came up at the hearing, and might have led to even more intense questioning.

We’re told that the practices of the group would surprise “many” faithful Catholics because members swear covenants to one another and are given personal advisors to help them remain faithful in their Christian vocations. What’s more, they practice the Christian teaching of men being heads of households. Heaven forfend. It is perhaps worth noting that Pope Francis named a member of this group auxiliary bishop of Portland in 2014, so membership in the group must not be disqualifying in the eyes of the Vatican.

But yes, this highly accomplished law professor who is now a judicial nominee is part of a conspiracy to suppress women, that’s the ticket.

People who think that membership in this group legitimize a religious test are quoted, though they say that their religious test isn’t really a religious test but more just asking questions. Then, as if we’re living in the 1960s and John F. Kennedy is being accused of dual loyalties, we get this:

Legal scholars said that such loyalty oaths could raise legitimate questions about a judicial nominee’s independence and impartiality. The scholars said in interviews that while there certainly was no religious test for office, it would have been relevant for the senators to examine what it means for a judicial nominee to make an oath to a group that could wield significant authority over its members’ lives.

Can Americans ever really trust a Roman Catholic, what with their eating fish on Fridays, and their pope business, and their pledges of commitment to other Christians?

A member of the group explains that Christian accountability is not as nefarious as The New York Times is making it out to be and that “If and when members hold political offices, or judicial offices, or administrative offices, we would certainly not tell them how to discharge their responsibilities.” Most of the criticisms of the group are attributed to “critics,” as opposed to people with names.

Then the article darkly suggests that people are trying to hide her membership in the group. One of the pieces of evidence for this is:

Every nominee for the federal bench is required to fill out a detailed questionnaire for the Senate Judiciary Committee. Ms. Barrett did not list any religious affiliations on her questionnaire, though many nominees have in the past.

The article says administration officials had advised nominees not to list religious affiliations. And it’s also worth noting something the article does not, which is that the questionnaire doesn’t ask for religious affiliations. It asks for many other types of affiliations, but not religious ones. Probably because that would be viewed as a religious test.

The people quoted for the article are all critics of Barrett’s, which means that “Some Worry About Religion Reporter’s Fairness.”

This is quite a campaign that the Left is waging against Barrett on account of her being a practicing Roman Catholic. One can imagine how even a fraction of comparable scrutiny of a nominee with a different religion might be viewed by the media and other liberals.