Should There Be A Religious Test For Judges?
Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats continue to ask President Trump’s judicial nominees questions about their religious beliefs in front of the committee.
Just the other day Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey questioned one of President Trump’s judicial nominees, Neomi Rao about her view of homosexuality and LGBTQ Americans during a Senate Judiciary hearing. Booker asked her if she considers gay relationships to be “immoral.”
The Daily Caller is reporting on a back and forth, for lack of a better term conversation between Republican Senator Mike Lee from Utah and Democrat Senator Hirono from Hawaii. Senator Lee said the following:
You can’t openly, publicly question a nominee about that nominee’s religious beliefs, about what he or she believes to be sinful conduct without subjecting that nominee to ridicule and simultaneously demeaning some of the fundamental tenants of our constitutional republic…You can’t ask a nominee questions like those to which Neomi Rao was subjected just the other day and those that I’ve seen asked of some of our other nominees and then later ask the question ‘how did we get here?
Senator Lee went on to say:
I can’t fathom a circumstance in which it’s ever appropriate for us to ask a nominee about his or her religious beliefs about whether x, y or z is a sin
Should you ask nominees about their religious or atheist beliefs? Where do you think that would end, sounds to me like a bottomless pit.
Senator Lee went on to say to the committee members and public:
I urge you to consider the fact that we should never expose someone to shame, ridicule or scorn on the basis of their religious beliefs and I ask that we refrain from doing so in this committee…We should never again ask someone what they regard as a sin or other particulars of their religious beliefs. It’s nobody’s darn business. It’s certainly not the business of this committee.
Are the questions asked about morality to be considered a religious test? You can be a moral person without following a religion but in today’s society most people would consider a question about morality to be a question about your religious beliefs.
Democrat Senator Hirono responded by saying:
We are not in the business of censuring each other’s questions to nominees or falsely assigning motives that don’t exist…There is no religious test for nominees on this committee and to suggest otherwise is, to quote my friend from Utah, ‘wildly inappropriate.
If you ask questions about someone’s religion or morality how is it “falsely assigning motives? You are asking those questions to elicit a certain response that you are looking for in which to base you judgement on.
Republican Senator Lee followed up that remark by saying:
The problem with asking a nominee about the particulars of his or her religious beliefs is that those questions inevitably expose those beliefs as somehow a qualifier or a disqualifier for public office…That is flatly inconsistent with [the United States Constitution].
I would ask the question to these Senators asking religious or moral questions: Can you ask a nominee if they are an atheist or ask the nominee what moral or ethical foundation from which they make their decisions upon and then follow-up that question with asking a nominee if they base their decisions based on emotion or intelligence and facts?
Or how about asking a judicial nominees belief in their religion of Islam or even whether they believe in Sharia Law?
Are those all appropriate questions?