Friday, December 6, 2019

Senate Majority Leader McConnell Attacks Religious Tests for Judicial Nominees

Following are excerpts of remarks delivered by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) December 5, 2019 on the Senate floor regarding nominations and religious freedom:

I want to take a moment to help clarify why I and millions of other Americans care so much about having federal judges who believe in the radical notion that words matter and that a judge’s job is to follow the law and the Constitution.

Take, for one example, the subject of religious freedom.

The liberty of conscience and the freedom to live out our faiths has been a foundational principle from the Republic’s earliest days. Many of the first Europeans who arrived in the New World came here fleeing religious persecution.
In the last several years, some of our Democratic colleagues have tried literally to impose religious tests on nominees for federal office. Just take the No Religious Test Clause and the First Amendment and throw them right out the window.

Judge Brian Buescher, now a district judge in Nebraska, was attacked by two Democrats on the Judiciary Committee for being a faithful Catholic and a member of the mainstream, worldwide Catholic group, the Knights of Columbus. In written questions, one senator called standard Catholic teachings “extreme positions” and asked if he’d dial down his personal faith practice if confirmed. As our colleague Senator Sasse observed at the time, Democrats were transparently implying that “Brian’s religious beliefs, and his affiliation with this Catholic, religious, fraternal organization, might make him unfit for service… [it’s] plainly unconstitutional.”

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, now a circuit judge on the Seventh Circuit, was likewise subjected to a religious test during a confirmation hearing. One Democrat senator literally asked: “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” Another offered this bizarre and ominous remark: “The dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s a concern.”

So, look— these warning signs on religious freedom are popping up everywhere the modern political left rears its head.

Religious freedom in America has never meant, and will never mean, solely the freedom to worship privately. It has never meant, and will never mean, the ability to practice only a subset of faiths acceptable to some subset of politicians. It means the right to live your life according to the dictates of your faith and conscience – free from government coercion.   

If those statements strike anybody in this chamber as remotely controversial, that is exactly why President Trump, Senate Republicans, and millions of Americans are focused on confirming federal judges who will apply our Constitution as it was originally understood.


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