Minority Leader McCarthy: No Religious Tests for Supreme Court Nominees

Alexander Watson | September 25, 2020 | 12:50pm EDT
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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)  (Getty Images)
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) (Getty Images)

(CNS News) – When asked about Article 6 of the Constitution, which states that there shall be no “religious test” for serving in public office, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, “yes,” he agrees, and that the rule certainly applies to Supreme Court nominees.

Some lawmakers have questioned the Catholic faith of some of President Trump’s nominations to the federal bench. In 2017, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), while questioning then-Appeals Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, said, “when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.”

At the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, CNS News asked Rep. McCarthy, “Article VI of the Constitution says ‘no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.’  Do you believe that this applies to Supreme Court nominees as well?”

Rep. McCarthy said, “Yes."

Judge Amy Coney Barrett is on President Donald Trump’s short list to replace Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died of cancer last Friday. Another woman and Catholic on the short list is Judge Barbara Lagoa.

Judges Amy Coney Barrett, left, and Barbara Lagoa. (Getty Images)
Judges Amy Coney Barrett, left, and Barbara Lagoa. (Getty Images)

In addition to Feinstein’s remarks about Barrett, during that same hearing Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) pressed Barrett on her Catholicism, asking at one point, “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” 

Commenting on the line of questioning, the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan T. Anderson said, “Anti-Christian sentiments which were once only whispered behind closed doors are now being proclaimed from the rooftops by the most powerful people in society.” 

However, many members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have shown anti-Catholic bias in the past.  Dick Durbin (D. IL), also during the 2017 Senate hearings on the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, interrogated Barrett on her faith. 

In another hearing for nominee Brian C. Buescher, in 2018, Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) – Joe Biden’s running mate – pressed Buescher about his membership in the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the 2020 vice presidential candidate.  (Getty Images)
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the 2020 vice presidential candidate. (Getty Images)

Commenting on the questioning, Catholic League President Bill Donohue said, “In 2018, Harris questioned the suitability of Brian C. Buescher to be seated as a federal district judge. On Dec. 26, 2018, I issued a news release condemning Harris for attacking the nominee because he was a member of the Knights of Columbus, a pro-life Catholic organization.

“Harris asked Buescher, ‘were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman's right to choose when you joined the organization?’ Her real target was the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion and sexuality. Harris has also declared war on pro-life activists who expose the ugly practices of abortion mills.”

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