House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Sunday that she expects people to focus on how faithful Amy Coney Barrett would be to the U.S. Constitution, rather than the Supreme Court nominee’s personal religious beliefs.
“It doesn’t matter what her faith is, what religion she believes in. What matters is does she believe in the Constitution of the United States,” said Pelosi during an interview on CNN’s “State of Union,” when asked about Democrats’ criticism that Barrett’s Catholic faith might influence her court decisions.
“I think it’s appropriate for people to ask her about how faithful she would be to the Constitution of the United States, whatever her faith,” Pelosi told host Jake Tapper. “Does she believe in the precedent on the Supreme Court that has upheld the Affordable Care Act?”
A former law professor at Notre Dame University and current judge on the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Barrett was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Barrett identifies as a “faithful Catholic” and had said that although she takes her religious beliefs seriously, they do not “bear in discharge” of her duty as a judge.
During her conformation hearing in 2017 before the Senate Judiciary Committee considering her nomination to the 7th Circuit, Barrett came under a barrage of questions from Democratic senators about the role of her Catholic faith in judging. Barrett responded that she sees “no conflict between having a sincerely held faith and duties as a judge.”
“We have many judges, both state and federal, across the country who have sincerely held religious views and still impartially and honestly discharge their obligations as a judge,” Barrett said at the time. “And were I confirmed as a judge, I would decide cases according to rule of law, beginning to end, and in the rare circumstance that might ever arise—I can’t imagine one sitting here now—where I felt that I had some conscientious objection to the law, I would recuse.”
Similar questions centered around Barrett’s religion were brought up by Democrats once again when Trump eyed the judge as his pick to replace Ginsburg on the high court.
“They keep telling us that none of the things they wrote or said yesterday should infringe on their decision, but how can we be assured that they can be objective?” said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) during an interview with CNN. “Why should we say you get a lifetime appointment so that you can reflect your ideological agenda in your decision making?”
Popularly referred to as “No Religious Test Clause,” a clause within Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States,” advancing religious freedom and protecting less politically powerful faiths against discrimination.