Other Opinions

Feinstein crosses a line with her ‘religious test’ to judicial nominee

In this May 10 file photo, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Catholic leaders and university presidents are objecting to Feinstein’s line of questioning for one of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, Amy Coney Barrett, arguing the focus on her faith is misplaced and runs counter to the Constitution’s prohibition on religious tests for political office.
In this May 10 file photo, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Catholic leaders and university presidents are objecting to Feinstein’s line of questioning for one of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, Amy Coney Barrett, arguing the focus on her faith is misplaced and runs counter to the Constitution’s prohibition on religious tests for political office. AP

Everyone sees the world and functions according to their beliefs and values. Some see the world through a secular lens, that is, supernaturalism is untrue, man is everything, the state supreme. Opposite this is the biblical worldview that says God exists, is the sovereign creator and sustainer of all things, and is personal and interested in everyone and everything.

To say that either of these views, and there is a multitude of other views as well, cannot participate equally in the marketplace of ideas is wrong. There is no secular-sacred divide. Just because we may be offended by a belief we disagree with does not give us the right to shut it out.

Even though America’s Founding Fathers were predominantly Christians they knew they must protect the rights of those who didn’t believe. In Article VI of the Constitution they said, “... all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath and Affirmation, to support this Constitution, but no religious Test shall be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” In others words, no one seeking or appointed to a position need be a believer.

Recently in Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California turned this “religious test” on its head for a judicial nominee when challenging Amy Coney Barrett, a Trump nominee to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Barrett, who clerked for Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia, is a practicing Catholic who has written about faith and politics.

“When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein said. “And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.” Feinstein continued, saying she felt Barrett “could not separate her personal views from the law, particularly regarding women’s reproductive rights.”

Barrett’s faith forms her worldview just as Feinstein’s beliefs form hers, but just as former Justice Scalia, a Catholic, was able to rule on Constitutional issues without allowing “dogma” (doctrine or belief) to overrule his judgments, I’m sure Barrett can do the same. Funny, this issue never seems to be a problem with “liberal” judges who claim Catholicism but are pro-choice.

Some may remember Sen. Bernie Sanders’ attacking Russell Vought, nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, and saying he was unfit for public service because of his “exclusive” Christian beliefs. This type of attack on Christians by secularists on the left is a religious freedom issue. Is a Christian no longer able to serve in the public sector, or speak in a public forum if he holds to biblical beliefs on sex, marriage, government or anything else? Increasingly political correctness on the far left says, “No.” They say those views are simply hateful and wrong and should not be heard.

I’m sure most liberals don’t agree with this assessment, but speech codes and censoring speech from the right is increasing. The Southern Poverty Law Center for example has listed every Tea Party group and Christian organization that believes in the biblical definition of marriage as “hate groups.” Its definition of hate appears to be anything that opposes its viewpoint.

Freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and the freedom to believe whatever you want is a hallmark of what it is to be American. We must protect these rights for all people.

Mike Fullilove of Long Beach writes about local, state and national issues from a conservative perspective.

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