A new Family Research Council report alleges that nine different Trump administration nominees have been the subject of unconstitutional questioning because Senate Democrats are concerned that the strong faith of the nominees makes them unfit for service as a judge or in some executive branch capacity.
The final paragraph of Article VI in the Constitution reads: “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
But the report, entitled,”Rebels Without A Clause: When Senators Run Roughshod Over the “No Religious Test” Clause of the U.S. Constitution,” accuses 11 Democrats and Independent Bernie Sanders of using a nominee’s faith to deem them unqualified.
“The idea is that the line of questioning from primarily Democratic senators over the past two years has been a violation of the spirit, if the not the text, of that clause,” said Alexandra McPhee, director of religious freedom advocacy at Family Research Council.
The report highlights moments like Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono and California Sen. Kamala Harris being deeply troubled by nominees to were members of Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization focused on charity and service.
Trump’s nominee to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, Russell Vought, was hammered by Sanders and Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen for a private letter in which Vought said salvation is only possible through Jesus Christ.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was repeatedly asked by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker about his personal opinions on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
Another nominee was peppered with questions regarding things his pastor had said.
Perhaps the best known example is California Sen. Dianne Feinstein explaining her opposition to the nomination of Notre Dame Prof. Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
“When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,” said Feinstein.
McPhee says that sort of statement violates the Constitution.
“She’s basically saying that she distrusts Amy Coney Barrett and her ability to be impartial because Judge Barrett has deeply-held religious convictions,” said McPhee.
Listen to the full podcast to hear McPhee explain what is proper and improper in evaluating a nominee. She also answers counterarguments like how lawmakers ought to be sure a nominee will be faithful to the Constitution and how she would approach a Muslim nominee who is personally favorable towards Sharia law.