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WAGGONER: Senators Must Stop Imposing Religious Litmus Tests On Court Nominees
Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., attend the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled “Police Use of Force and Community Relations,” in Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/POOL)
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

We are all created equal. We are all endowed with God-given rights. These promises — which are enshrined in our nation’s founding documents — form the bedrock of our nation and have made America the beacon of liberty throughout the world.

Many of us across this great country are people of faith. For us, faith is the source of our desire to serve others and uphold these promises in our Constitution. We know that they give us the freedom to live out our faith in the service of others. And we also know that, if those promises from the Constitution are broken for any one of us, they are broken for all of us.

Our legal system’s purpose is to keep these promises, to protect our inalienable rights, and to ensure that everyone is treated equally under the law. So we must have judges who consistently hold us to these ideals and apply the law as it is, not how they would like it to be.

Sadly, there are many today who take a different view of the law, and who seem to have forgotten about these promises in our Constitution. They don’t believe that a person of faith can also be a faithful judge.

Take, Sen. Kamala Harris’s attacks on Brian Buescher, a federal judicial nominee, for his involvement in the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic charitable organization with millions of members. The organization holds to Catholic doctrine on the sanctity of life and marriage, views which Harris described as “extreme.” She voted to reject Buescher’s appointment as a judge.

Sen. Cory Booker questioned the ability of Neomi Rao, another judicial nominee, to impartially apply the law if she supported her faith’s teaching about marriage.* He voted to reject Rao’s appointment as a judge.

And perhaps most famously, Sen. Dianne Feinstein attacked Amy Coney Barrett for her devout Catholic faith during confirmation hearings for her appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, telling her, “The dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.”

She, too, voted to reject Barrett’s appointment as a judge.

Their position is clear: These senators will not permit certain people of faith to serve our nation unless those people bow to the senators’ political ideology. And they will impose a religious test to stop anyone who disagrees with them from joining the bench.

Our Constitution promises the God-given right of religious freedom to every American, guaranteeing the free exercise of religion. 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.”

Though penned with quill and ink, the message in these words is timeless and very clear: Public officeholders, including judges, should never be maligned or disqualified because of their religious convictions.

President John F. Kennedy memorably warned that this type of religious discrimination contradicts who we are as a nation: “For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew or a Quaker or a Unitarian or a Baptist.… Today I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you — until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped apart at a time of great national peril.”

We must reject religious bigotry and hold ourselves to a higher standard. Let’s be a nation that measures judges by their fidelity to the Constitution, not by their religious beliefs. Let’s never tell someone they are disqualified from public service because of their faith.

Let us work together to fulfill our Constitution’s promise of true freedom and true equality for all.

*A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Rao as Catholic. 

Kristen Waggoner is general counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom. Follow her on Twitter @KWaggonerADF and follow Alliance Defending Freedom @AllianceDefends

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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