The attacks on Judge Barrett should concern “those who value our First Amendment right to religious freedom”

By Dave Andrusko

Understandably so, most of the attention is being paid to last night’s debate between pro-life President Donald Trump and pro-abortion former vice president Joe Biden. As we discussed earlier today, the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett came up very early. 

Biden was smart enough not to personally attack a woman of astounding accomplishments [“I’m not opposed to the justice, she seems like a very fine person”], instead falling back on the Democrat talking point that the vacancy should not be filled now but by the next President. 

President Trump had a wonderful response: “I’m not elected for three years.”

Rachel Campos-Duffy summarized the bind pro-abortionists (“feminists,” or otherwise) find themselves in: “Feminists have an Amy Coney Barrett problem:  Since Barrett cannot be attacked on merit, Democrats are in a pickle” [https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/rachel-campos-duffy-feminists-amy-coney-barrett].

That notwithstanding, the race to the bottom to smear Judge Barrett is off and running, as this headline illustrates: “Barrett tied to faith group ex-members say subjugates women

It’s not even a well-executed hit job. Find some disgruntled former members from years back and imply this says something about a woman who, in addition to being the mother of seven, is an appeals court judge, a professor at the University of Notre Dame, has clerked for a Supreme Court Justice, and while a student “earned a full academic scholarship, served as the executive editor of the Law Review, graduated first in her class and received the law school’s award for the best record of scholarship and achievement,” to quote President Trump. 

As Judge Barrett is meeting with Senators (reportedly she’ll have met with 19 in two days), defenders of fair play are asking what is going on?! Here are two headlines:

*“The disgusting war on Amy Coney Barrett’s family”– Nicole Russell

*”The Left’s Unhealthy Interest in Amy Coney Barrett’s Adopted Kids”Jason Riley

Remember when hauling the children of famous people into the public arena  was supposed to be off-limits? No more. Not to pro-abortion Democrats.

To reiterate, because her legal mind is razor-sharp, Judge Barrett has to be attacked on other grounds—one of which is her adopted children. Another is her Catholic faith, which pro-abortion Democrats are trying to wheedle into the conversation without being too obvious.

Here’s a good example. “Amy Coney Barrett’s Catholicism Is Controversial But May Not Be Confirmation IssueNPR’s Tom Gjelten informs us

If Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed as the new Supreme Court justice, she will be one of six Catholics on the bench. She would be joined by an Episcopalian who was raised as a Catholic. and two Jewish justices.

Never before has the Court been so dominated by one religious denomination, a fact that could conceivably be raised during Barrett’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, scheduled to begin on Oct. 12.

“It’s legitimate for senators to be concerned about whether the court is reflecting the diversity of faith in the United States,” says Marci Hamilton, an expert on religion and law at the University of Pennsylvania.

But, darn, that may not come up. After all, Catholics are not a monolith. Justices Thomas and Sotomayor are both Catholics and they agree on the time of day but not much else. 

So how can pro-abortion Democrats attack Judge Barrett’s Catholic faith?  Gjelten has the answer:

If Amy Coney Barrett’s religious beliefs were to be raised during her confirmation hearings, it would presumably be because her Catholic faith appears to be of unusual intensity and character.

So, it’s okay to go after her, if she takes her faith seriously. Got it?

Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., the archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia, responded perfectly in an article that appeared in “First Things”:

If you’re photographed piously with your rosary beads at prayer—even better. The cultural loyalty of many Catholic voters to a once heavily Catholic, working-class party dies hard, no matter how different that party is today. As an elected official, you may even get an award from a major Catholic institution. But if you’re the kind of Catholic who seeks to discipline his or her life around Catholic beliefs regarding marriage and family, religious freedom, sex, and abortion—well, that’s a different matter, as Democratic Congressman Dan Lipinski discovered when his own party dumped him in a primary earlier this year. In Bill Maher’s immortal words, a woman like Amy Coney Barrett, whatever her professional credentials, is just “a [expletive] nut.”

What makes Archbishop Chaput’s essay so important is that what is going on right now in the campaign against Judge Barrett is a harbinger of things to come, and not just for Catholics:

Today’s hostility toward those who support Catholic teaching should concern every practicing Catholic—and anyone who values the First Amendment. If attacks on belief are an acceptable standard by which to impugn judicial nominees today, then tomorrow they’ll be used on the rest of us who uphold the teachings of our faith. What’s been playing out in Senate confirmation hearings and public debates over judicial nominees is a harbinger of future attacks on the Church herself and on any Catholic who holds with her enduring moral witness. Over the past decade, we’ve already seen the Catholic Church— and many of her ministries and institutions—targeted specifically for matters of belief.

Those who value our First Amendment right to religious freedom should realize that tests about belief are attacks on religious liberty. And positioning dissenting Catholics as “mainstream Americans” and believing Catholics as “extremists”—now a common and thoroughly dishonest culture war technique—is a particular affront to the free exercise of religion. It puts the rights of far more Americans at risk than will ever be nominated for the court.