A Nebraska lawyer who was nominated by President Trump for the United States District Court was targeted by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) because he is a member of a prominent Catholic charitable organization.
Attorney Brian C. Buescher, from Omaha, is a member in the Knights of Columbus, which bases its values on Catholic teaching. In questions submitted to the candidate by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Hirono stated, “You reported that you have been a member of the Knights of Columbus since 1993. The Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions. For example, it was reportedly one of the top contributors to California’s Proposition 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriage. If confirmed, do you intend to end your membership with this organization to avoid any appearance of bias?”
The Knights of Columbus is a Roman Catholic service organization with approximately two million members world-wide. I have not drafted any policies or positions for the national organization. If confirmed, I will abide by the Code of Conduct of United States Judges and will not affiliate with any organization in violation of the Code.
Hirono persisted, “If confirmed, will you recuse yourself from all cases in which the Knights of Columbus has taken a position?"
Buescher replied, “The Knights of Columbus does not have the authority to take personal political positions on behalf of all of its approximately two million members. If confirmed, I will apply all provisions of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, including Canon 3(C), regarding recusal and disqualification.”
Harris asked, “Since 1993, you have been a member of the Knights of Columbus, an all-male society comprised primarily of Catholic men. In 2016, Carl Anderson, leader of the Knights of Columbus, described abortion as ‘a legal regime that has resulted in more 40 than million deaths.’ Mr. Anderson went on to say that ‘abortion is the killing of the innocent on a massive scale.’ Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?"
Buescher answered, “The Knights of Columbus is a Roman Catholic service organization with approximately two million members worldwide. The organization has a religious and charitable purpose. I joined the Knights of Columbus when I was 18 years old and have been a member ever since. My membership has involved participation in charitable and community events in local Catholic parishes. I do not recall if I was aware whether the Knights of Columbus had taken a position on the abortion issue when I joined at the age of eighteen.”
The Knights of Columbus website notes:
From the moment of our founding in 1882, charity has been the first principle of the Knights of Columbus. We are Catholic men of faith and men of charitable action. 2017 was a record-setting year for Knights of Columbus charitable work with an unprecedented $185.6 million in donations and 75.6 million hours of service provided worldwide. The monetary value of K of C’s service hours is valued at $1.9 billion based on an estimate by Independent Sector, a network for nonprofit foundations that values a 2017 volunteer hour at $24.69.