I Can’t Think Of A Witty Title For This — Josh Hawley Said Something Stupid At The Barrett Hearings
And the award for dumbest thing said on the first day of the Barrett hearings goes to an old favorite of mine, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley. Considering Hawley first made a name for himself on the national stage by getting angry Democrats took the idea a pick for one of the nine most powerful people in the country could be a rapist, I expected so good stuff from him. Hawley, in normal Hawley manner, took one day to live up to my expectations.
As of writing, Barrett has been accused of various conflicts of interest regarding her connection to the extreme Catholic group People of Praise. These connections, some feel, means she is to bias to be one of the nine most powerful people in the country. Those people, as we all know, have been called bigots by Republicans for daring to criticize a Catholic. Now, I’ve already thoroughly debunked the claims that showing mild concern about this makes you a bigot, but Hawley decided to go one step further on the Senate floor yesterday morning.
From National Review:
“This is an attempt to broach a new frontier, to set a new standard — actually, it’s an attempt to bring back an old standard that the Constitution of the United States explicitly forbids,” Hawley said. “I’m talking about a religious test for office.”
Hawley added that Senator Feinstein, in Barrett’s 2017 hearing, employed “the very terminology of anti-Catholic bigotry current in this country a century ago. She wasn’t alone. Other senators on this committee [in 2017] asked you if you were an ‘orthodox’ Catholic.”
In a reference to Senator Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii,) Hawley said, “Another senator said she worried you would be a ‘Catholic’ judge if you were confirmed…I guess as opposed to an American judge.”
Before I break down just how stupid what Hawley is saying is, first, I should break down all the small things regarding what he said. To begin with, is this a new standard or an old standard — or was a bear of some kind involved?
Also, I’m not sure how asking someone if they’re an “Orthodox Catholic” is offensive. The Orthodox-Catholic Church of America is a real organization that has existed since 1892. Does Hawley think “Orthodox” is a secret code term for “bigot” or something — because if so, not only would Orthodox Catholics but also Orthodox Protestants and Jews would like to have a word with him.
I also find something odd about the implication that Senator Feinstein, who attended a Catholic school in her youth, is some massive anti-Catholic bigot. Although I can’t help but notice that Hawley said nothing about the comments of Senator Dick Durban, who was denied communion in 2004 for refusing to allow his theological views impact how he votes. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a reason he’s concerned about people who have been endorsed by Catholic organizations legislating their theological opinions from the bench — is that possible?
For those who haven’t been paying attention, the main arguments made by Democrats against confirming Barrett are that it’s too close to the election and that she holds views they disagree with on issues like abortion. Josh Hawley should understand the second reason quite well considering he has said that he will not vote for a Supreme Court Justice that agrees with Roe v. Wade. This means that Josh Hawley is unlikely to support a Supreme Court Justice from the Unitarian Universalist Church — 90% of whom believe abortion should be legal. Same reason he’s unlikely to vote for an Atheist or Agnostic justice (87%), a Jewish justice (83%), a Buddhist (82%), an Episcopalian (79%), a member of the United Church Of Christ (72%), a Hindu (68%), a member of the Presbyterian Church or the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (65%), an African Methodist Episcopal (64%), or a United Methodist (58%). All of these groups, might I add, are more likely than the average US adult to support legal abortion. So, I must ask, why does Josh Hawley support a religious test for public office?
This idea that the banning of a religious test for public office also means that we can’t question openly religious nominations for theocratic interests is also nonsense. Is Senator Hawley really telling me that if a Muslim were nominated to the Supreme Court, he would not ask them about how their theological opinions reflect their legal ones? Because if so, not only is he ridiculously stupid, but he’s also ridiculously lazy regarding his job as a Senator — to vet Supreme Court nominations.
Of course, the banning of a religious test for public office of which Hawley is referring to has always been a little vague. Texas, for example, has laws allowing anyone of any religion to hold public office — however, atheists like myself who do not hold any religious beliefs could still be excluded. (Mind you, Texas would have a hard time trying to enforce that law, but my point still stands.) One thing that has always been the case, however, is that rules such as that only apply to elected officials, not appointed ones. I highly doubt the founding fathers — some of which would have burned Catholics alive if given the chance — wrote a ban on a religious test for public office in order to stop us from vetting court appointees for potential conflicts of interest.
As a bonus, I’ll briefly discuss this statement from Senator Ben Sasse:
“These ugly smears against Judge Barrett are a combination of anti-Catholic bigotry and QAnon-level stupidity,” Sasse said in a statement. “People of Praise is basically a Bible study — and just like billions of Christians around the world, Judge Barrett reads the Bible, prays, and tries to serve her community. Senators should condemn this wacky McCarthyism.”
So the two major Republicans promising us Barrett won’t overturn implement socially conservatives views from the court are:
- Senator Hawley, who says he will only vote for Supreme Court justices who wish to overturn Roe v. Wade.
- Senator Sasse, who famously said “even one abortion is too many.”
I should also note that the idea that “People of Praise is basically a Bible study” is a little odd of a claim. For one, I’ve never heard of a Bible study that offered single women (and men) the chance to live with the leader — but hey, maybe I’m a mile off.
But even if People of Praise is not the reason Barrett, for example, signed a letter in the 2000s advocating for the overturn of Roe v. Wade, all that does is change the opinion from that of People of Praise to that of her. I hate to inform Sasse this, but “this bad opinion is all Barrett’s” is not the slam debunk defense he thinks it is.