Freshman Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), a rising star in the Republican Party with a sterling legal resume including a prestigious Supreme Court clerkship, has once again gone where seemingly none of his fellow Senate Judiciary Committee conservatives will go: Staking out a principled, intensive, substantive vetting of a Trump administration judicial nominee.
As I noted on Monday, there appeared to be a wee bit of a problem with Michael Bogren, a judicial nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. Specifically, Bogren appears to be somewhere between mildly hostile and very hostile to religious liberty.
Per the underlying 2017 article from the Lansing State Journal:
Bogren expressed frustration with Anderson’s insistence that Tennes’ refusal to hold same sex weddings was not discrimination.
“The fact that the plaintiff says, ‘My religion compels me,’ does not protect him,” Bogren said. “There’s a difference between belief and act.”
That sounds an awful lot like anti-religious liberty, leftist rhetorical flourish. Indeed, Catholic network EWTN also picked up the story on Monday:
Today, Sen. Hawley absolutely grilled Bogren in his Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, accusing Bogren of comparing a Catholic family’s observance of doctrinal Catholicism with the views of the repulsive, white supremacist Ku Klux Klan.
Hawley’s full interrogation can be viewed here:
Bogren’s underlying legal argument that he once advanced, and which Hawley questioned in the hearing, is very problematic. Conservative commentator Daniel Horowitz argues that, “On[c]e you accede to Bogren’s premise that sexual behavior is like race, then even in a case without government contracts — just straight up private business wanting to be left alone — would have to service a homosexual wedding.”
As I covered numerous times in late February, Hawley had previously taken it upon himself to rigorously question top Trump judicial nominee Neomi Rao, the named successor to Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, over her beliefs with respect to the atextual, fabricated, judicial power-grabbing faux-constitutional Fifth/Fourteenth Amendment doctrine of “substantive due process.” Rao ultimately successfully passed through both the Judiciary Committee and the full Senate.
At the time, I supported Hawley’s stand in a Daily Wire op-ed and argued the following:
Conservatives Should Support Conservatism — Not The Trump Administration.
It should go without saying that, in instances where substantive conservatism and the whims of the Trump Administration seem to differ, conservatives ought to stand for conservatism. If the White House Counsel’s Office, buttressed by outside advisers, were to hypothetically let slip through a nominee who held stealth views about abortion jurisprudence or “substantive due process” that are out of step with sound constitutional/originalist principles, then it ought to fall on conservatives on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to serve as a failsafe. More generally, Hawley’s acting as a second set of corroborative eyes is simply emblematic of the rudimentary separation of powers tug-of-war that James Madison described in The Federalist No. 51: “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” Conservative U.S. Senators on the Judiciary Committee ought to have no blind fealty to the White House’s well-oiled judicial nominations machine simply because that White House is headed by a Republican; their fealty, instead, is to the original public meaning of the U.S. Constitution.