Mulhall column: The show that never ends
Last September 25, President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. It didn’t take long before the dull knives came out.
Barbara Striesand tweeted, “A spiteful Donald Trump picked a woman who is the polar opposite of RBG. Barrett opposes the ACA and a woman’s right to choose her reproductive decisions. She will set the country back decades…”
Bette Midler tweeted, “Do you think they tried very hard to get Donald to read anything about #AmyConeyBarrett, or did they just say, ‘We found a lady Mike Pence’ during a commercial break on OANN…”
Low resolution criticism, really. I’m waiting for the left to jump on Barrett’s faith.
Of course, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Jewish faith was wholly accepted, and when President Obama appointed Sonia Sotomayor, the media praised her Catholic Faith.
Why? The easy answer is the left presumes the nomination of a Democrat executive has proven party bona fides on key issues. It’s a safe bet.
Look closer, however, and it’s clear Democrat party affiliation is a necessary propitiation signaling that Christian faith — if it’s not a form of abject insanity — belongs way down the veracity list behind numerous modern “mind forg’d manacles,” all variations on science and government.
When a Republican nominates a candidate, no ideological purity exists. Hence, you have hearings that focus on stare desisis — the legal principle of giving precedence to previous court decisions because, on the left, you can’t have a justice making decisions on really important matters using guidance from anything other than previous court decisions.
Chief Justice John Roberts’ and Associate Justice Samuel Alito’s Faiths underwent this scrutiny, and so did Brett Kavanaugh’s, though to a lesser extent. It’s also true Clarence Thomas is Catholic, but in his confirmation, Democrats focused on putting a pubic hair on a Coke can.
At stake, apparently, is how a potential justice’s faith affects judgement when, for example, a Catholic Hospital appears before the court for declining to perform abortions.
Democrats have marshaled Faith concerns whenever a Catholic has stepped onto a political stage at least since John F. Kennedy ran for President. However, what’s really under fire when this happens is Christianity.
You see this in religious exemption cases that make it to the Supreme Court.
For example, one of the most one-sided rulings in recent history was Hosanna Tabor, a unanimous decision in favor of a Lutheran school.
Similarly, while everyone’s heard of the well-known Little Sisters of the Poor case in which the ACA (Obamacare) mandated Catholic nuns to buy health insurance that covered contraception, there have also been cases in which courts have ruled in favor of non-Catholic churches and business owners. Among the more memorable include the Hobby Lobby and Masterpiece Cakeshop cases.
Hence, it’s not Catholicism per se that’s the problem, but Christianity in general.
The recent past provides ample guidance that the Democrats will attack Barrett’s faith. When Trump nominated Barrett to a federal appeals court seat in 2017, Democrats repeatedly raised concerns about her faith.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, at one point told Barrett that “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.”
Democrats will oppose Barrett, to be sure, and her Catholic Faith is a much safer point of attack than anything else Democrats might contemplate — Barrett would be the first Supreme Court justice who is the mother of school-age children, two of whom are Haitian adoptees.
There’s simply no known good footing for a character assassination, and Democrat efforts to push Barrett around on the basis of anything but Catholic Faith could backfire on them next month. Still, the one big question that remains is whether Kamala Harris will go full-Kavanaugh on this nominee.
My bet is she will.
As Emerson Lake and Palmer once put it, “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.”
Mitch Mulhall is a husband, father and longtime Roaring Fork Valley resident. His column appears monthly in the Post Independent and at postindependent.com.
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