Separation of church and state are fundamental to American democracy. The Constitution guarantees that one’s religion ought to have no bearing on one’s rights. While most Americans ascribe to this foundational American principle in word, a recent federal appeals court nominee hearing revealed that putting this principle into practice can be a different story.
The Federalist reports that Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), in a court hearing for the nomination of Notre Dame Law School professor Amy Coney Barrett, asked her, “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?”
As the Federalist points out, asking Barrett about her faith, as if that could disqualify her from holding office, goes directly against the Constitution, religious freedom, and the separation of church and state.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) continued this line of questioning “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,” said Feinstein. “And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.”
The author of The Federalist article mentions another example of a Democrat questioning a government nominee on his faith. Earlier this summer. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) questioned Russell Vought who, at the time, was a nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. Sanders brought up an article Vought had written about his alma mater Wheaton College, in which Vought condemned the idea that everyone “worships the same God.”
After a heated exchange with Vought about Vought’s religious views, Sanders concluded, “I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about.”
Will this trend continue to take us further away from the Constitution and closer to an actual religious test for public office?
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Publication date: September 8, 2017