On Tuesday, after Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) had grilled Neomi Rao, a nominee for the DC Court of Appeals, about her religious beliefs, Sen. Ted Cruz, angry that such an exchange had been conducted, fired back at Booker, blasting that the Senate Judiciary Committee should not be “an avenue for persecution” or a “theological court of inquisition.”
As The Daily Wire reported, before Cruz slammed him Booker had grilled Rao over her perspective on homosexual relationships. The exchange went like this:
Booker: Are gay relationships, in your opinion, immoral?
Rao: Um, senator, I'm not sure the relevance of that.
Booker: I think it is relevant to your opinion. Do you think African American relationships are immoral? Do you think gay relationships are immoral?
Rao: No. I do not.
Booker: You do not believe that. Do you believe they are a sin?
Rao: Senator, my personal views on any of these subjects are things I would put to one side, and I would faithfully follow precedent—
Booker: So you're not willing to say here whether you believe it is sinful for two men to be married — you're not willing to comment on that?
Rao: Senator … No.
Booker: Excuse me?
Rao: I’m sorry?
Booker: I didn't hear your response.
Rao:. My response is that these personal views are ones that I would put to one side. Whatever my personal views are on the subject, I would faithfully follow the precedent of the Supreme Court.
Later, Booker continued, “Have you ever had an LGBTQ law clerk?”
Rao answered, "I have not been a judge so I don’t have any law clerks."
Booker continued, "I’m sorry, someone working for you?"
Rao replied, "Um, to be honest, I don’t know the sexual orientation of my staff. I take people as they come, irrespective of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation. I treat people as individuals."
After Booker finished, Cruz was the next senator to speak, and he wasted no time launching an attack on Booker and other Democrats who routinely grill judicial nominees about their religious preferences. He asserted;
The Senate Judiciary Committee should not be a theater for mischaracterizing or twisting nominees records or views. Nor should it be an avenue for persecution. We’ve seen a growing pattern among Senate Democrats of hostility to religious faith. I have to say I was deeply troubled a few minutes ago to hear questioning of a nominee asking your personal views on what is sinful. In my view that has no business in this committee. Article 6 of the Constitution says there shall be no religious test for any public office. We have also seen Senate Democrats attack what they have characterized as religious dogma. We've seen Senate Democrats attack nominees for their own personal views on salvation.
I don’t believe this is a theological court of inquisition. I think the proper avenue for investigation of this committee is a nominee’s record. So, Ms. Rao, let me talk about your record and let me ask you about your actual record, which is what this committee should be looking at, not our own personal religious views or your religious views whatever they may be.