Democrats now freely display the sort of anti-Catholic bigotry that JFK was thought to have vanquished in the 1960 presidential campaign. As they have done with so much of their history, the Democrats have deposited JFK and the 1960 campaign down the memory hole.
I wrote about the anti-Catholic bigotry on display in the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017. It was the subject of my City Journal column “The unfunniest senator” (that was Minnesota Senator Al Franken, before the fall). At the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Seventh Circuit, Senators Dick Durbin and Dianne Feinstein conducted a mini-inquisition of Barrett’s religious views. “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” Durbin asked. Feinstein concluded her questioning by telling Barrett that “the [Catholic] dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.” They all but asked Barrett whether she is now or ever has been a member of the Catholic Church.
Their performance distracted attention from then Franken’s own McCarthy-like performance. Also a member of the committee, Franken questioned Barrett about a speech that she had given to “an extreme right group.” Barrett acknowledged that she had been paid by the Alliance Defending Freedom to give a speech on constitutional interpretation to Christian law students in the ADF’s Blackstone Legal Fellowship program. The ADF is a prominent Christian legal-rights organization that litigates freedom-of-religion claims on behalf of parties such as Masterpiece Cakeshop—a case decided by the Supreme Court at the end of its term last year.
Noting that the ADF had recently been designated an anti-LGBT hate group—by the left-wing hate cult known as the Southern Poverty Law Center, that is—Franken attacked Barrett as unworthy of confirmation. “Now I question your judgment,” Franken told her. “The root word of judgment is ‘judge,’” he helpfully added.
“You have a long history of believing your religious beliefs should prevail,” California Senator Dianne Feinstein told Barrett during the confirmation hearing. “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.”
The Democrats’ bigotry could be turned against an observant member of any major faith. Their bigotry is nevertheless almost entirely instrumental. It is only to be used against Republicans/conservatives. An observant Catholic judicial nominee who subscribed to the orthodoxies of left-wing politics would be left untouched. Indeed, his or her faith would likely be adduced to his or her credit.
Via Mark Hemingway on Twitter, our attention was directed last month to the Catholic News Agency story “Judicial nominee faces Senate scrutiny over Knights of Columbus membership.” The CNA story returns us to the Senate Judiciary Committee in the matter of Brian C. Buescher, an Omaha-based lawyer nominated by President Trump to sit on the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska. Hemingway called out Senators Hirono and Harris for their “appalling behavior.”
“Appalling” is right, but Hirono and Harris are themselves appalling and their behavior derives from Democratic Party orthodoxy. In this case their behavior has the incidental benefit of illuminating the landscape in which we operate. Make no mistake: Hirono and Harris couldn’t care less about the fate of some Nebraska federal district court judicial nominee. They are engaged in preparation of the battle space for future fights and/or in marking out their own niche in the Democratic universe.
The freedom with which prominent Democrats wield their bigotry for political purposes is nevertheless disgusting. Washington Free Beacon editor Matt Continetti rightly condemns the “The Outrageous Assault on the Knights of Columbus.” This is an excellent column that illustrates the uses to which the Democrats put their bigotry. To get away with this kind of behavior has only one condition. You must be a Democrat.
NR’s Alexandra DeSanctis wonders: “Are Democrats Testing a Future Strategy against Amy Coney Barrett?” As Desanctis herself notes, however, the Dems tried it out on Barrett herself: “This should sound familiar. In the fall of 2017, Coney Barrett faced similar scrutiny from Democratic senators as a result of her Catholic faith, and some of their questioning centered around her membership in a small group called People of Praise, which has many practicing Catholic members.”