During two days of questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett was grilled about a number of issues, including abortion.
But Democrats, who claim Barrett could well support overturning Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the U.S., tiptoed around the nominee’s religion. Barrett, a mother of seven, is an avowed Catholic with a deep faith in God.
Yet a hot microphone caught Sen. Diane Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the committee, talking about Barrett’s faith.
“She’s been pro-life for a long time. So I suspect with her, it is deeply personal and comes with her religion,” Feinstein can be heard saying.
Feinstein, 87, also cited Barrett’s religion when the then-Notre Dame law professor was nominated in 2017 for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit.
“The dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein said at the time.
Barrett told senators then, as she did again this week, that while she is a faithful Catholic, her religious beliefs would not affect her judicial decisions.
Democrats pressed Barrett about Roe v. Wade and about anti-abortion statements she had signed in the past, but steered clear of her faith. It was Republicans who brought that issue up several times.
“You’re Catholic,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, chairman of the committee, said to Barrett. ““This is the first time in American history that we’ve nominated a woman who is unashamedly pro-life and embraces her faith without apology and she is going to the court.”
Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican, also brought up her faith, saying that “there’s nothing wrong with confirming to the Supreme Court of the United States a devout Catholic, pro-life, Christian.”
Barrett, for her part, said in one of her answers that she did not think that Roe v. Wade was so settled as to be considered an untouchable “super precedent,” such as, for example, the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education that struck down racial segregation in public schools.
“I’m answering a lot of questions about Roe, which I think indicates that Roe doesn’t fall in that category,” Barrett said Tuesday in response to questions about the case from Sen. Amy Klobuchar. “And scholars across the spectrum say that doesn’t mean Roe should be overruled, but descriptively it means it’s not a case that everyone has accepted and doesn’t call for its overruling.”
Twitterers hit Feinstein for her hot mic comments.
“Since when is wanting to PROTECT human life, strictly religious?” wrote one person.
“They just can’t help themselves. It’s incomprehensible to them that someone could be pro-life without being religious,” wrote another.