September 8, 2017
STATEMENT OF KRISTEN DAY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
OF DEMOCRATS FOR LIFE OF AMERICA
Democrats For Life of America (DFLA) expresses its disappointment with Democratic senators and interest groups who are attacking federal court of appeals nominee Amy Barrett for her personal religious views on the dignity of human life at all stages.
Vigorous questioning of President Trump's judicial nominees is needed to ensure that if confirmed to the court, they will follow the law and protect civil rights and liberties. But Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) stepped over a crucial line when she told Barrett in Wednesday's confirmation hearing: "The dogma lives loudly within you. And that's of concern when it comes to big issues."
Feinstein really means one issue, of course: abortion. And what she denigrates as "dogma" is the Catholic teaching that a human being is a person with dignity from the moment of conception--a belief held by millions of Americans, including believers of all faiths and nonbelievers alike.
But Senator Feinstein has no basis for holding this "dogma" against Professor Barrett. The nominee repeatedly made it clear that as a judge on a lower federal court, she would follow her oath to decide cases not by her personal views, but according to the law as set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court. Sen. Feinstein had no evidence with which to question those assurances. So instead she suggested that Barrett's statements could not be trusted because "the dogma lives loudly within [her]."
Feinstein's statement is blatantly inconsistent with Article VI of the Constitution, which says that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office ... under the United States."
Unbelievably, senators and interest groups have attacked Barrett with a 20-year-old article she co-wrote--not about abortion, but about Catholic judges conscientiously opposed to the death penalty!
That article noted the strong Catholic teaching against capital punishment, and it said that a Catholic judge who opposed issuing a death sentence might have to remove ("recuse") herself from the case, which is a well-established practice. The article made it clear that recusal would be the proper step: The judge may not stay on the case and rule according to personal beliefs instead of the law.
Yet Democratic senators and supposedly "progressive" interest groups are claiming that Barrett said she would impose her beliefs upon the law—when, in fact, she said the exact opposite.
In other words: Barrett said that a judge should never contradict the law but should remove himself from a case if he, in conscience, believes that ordering the execution of a human being would be immoral. And Democratic senators are expressing "concern" about that. When did our party--which once stood up for the conscientious claims of civil-rights marchers--become so fearful and dismissive of personal moral conscience?
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), following Feinstein's lead, asked Professor Barrett whether she considers herself an "orthodox Catholic." Since when did it become a practice of Democratic officeholders to inquire, with a critical eye, how a nominee characterizes her personal faith?
What causes our party's leaders to lose their compass and stray from basic Democratic principles? The answer is plain: abortion.
Democratic leaders remain so committed to protecting abortion from even minimal threats that they'll trample on other principles to do so. A nominee repeatedly makes it clear that she won't impose her personal beliefs as a judge--that she'll remove herself from a case if she faces a conflict of conscience. But Democrats still reject her because they think that she has strong personal religious beliefs ("dogma").
It's another example of how the Democratic Party loses its way when it focuses on protecting rigid abortion-rights ideology to the exclusion of all other principles. That same misguided focus has caused the party to lose all branches of the federal government and, in the last eight years, 1000 legislative seats around the country.
Question Amy Barrett and other Trump nominees vigorously. But be accurate in characterizing what they say. And don't violate constitutional values by concluding that their religious beliefs make them untrustworthy to follow the law.