In recent hearings for the confirmation of Brian Buescher to a federal judgeship, two senators questioned the nominee over his membership in the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal and philanthropic organization. Citing the organization’s opposition to abortion, gay marriage, and contraception, the senators chose to paint its members, Buescher included, as “extremists.” Jonathan Tobin comments:
[R]ather than probing Buescher’s qualifications for the bench, the question [about the Knights of Columbus] seemed aimed at creating a religious test that could potentially brand anyone who subscribed to Catholic teachings as off-limits for high office. That is something specifically prohibited by Article VI, Clause 3, of the U.S. Constitution. . . . Nor is this the first time that recent questions for a judicial nominee crossed the line into religious tests. At a September 2017 judicial-confirmation hearing for Amy Comey Barrett, Senator Dianne Feinstein told the nominee that she was troubled by her religious beliefs because “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s a concern.” . . .
We hear a great deal from many in the Jewish world about their concerns about anti-Semitism, as well as their worries about Islamophobia. But silence when members of Congress treat Catholicism as if it were a branch of Islamic State.
The point is that you don’t have to agree with the Knights of Columbus or the [Catholic] Church about any of the hot-button social issues on which the views of many Americans have changed in recent years. But no one who pretends to believe in religious freedom and the rights enumerated in the Constitution can stand by quietly while confirmation hearings increasingly are used to debate whether adherents of a mainstream faith—or any faith—should be allowed to hold office.