Justice Barrett is allowed to have religious beliefs


Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett
Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. (Graeme Jennings/Washington Examiner)

Justice Barrett is allowed to have religious beliefs

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Nowhere is the Left’s effort to silence conservatives more intense than in its demand that conservative (and therefore constitutionalist) judges recuse themselves from cases that might check America’s cultural revolution.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett faces calls to stay out of a Dec. 5 Supreme Court case in which a Colorado website designer, Lorie Smith, is defending her right to run her business without being forced to make websites for same-sex weddings. She believes marriage is the sacramental union of a man and a woman and argues that she should not be obliged to suggest otherwise.


There are plenty of designers who don’t share Smith’s views who would be delighted to take the business if it were offered to them. No one would be left without a wedding website if activists left Smith in peace. But the point of their hounding her is to make commercial enterprise impossible and life unpleasant for traditional Christians. It is simple religious persecution.

All of us should reject the banning of people from full participation in our society and economy for failing to toe the line of fashionable opinion. If someone’s views are generally regarded as odious, they’ll be shunned. Society will vote with its feet and its pocketbooks. But the Left wields the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act against Christians as its drafters intended, like medieval European tyrants who marginalized Jews by banning them from owning land.

The Supreme Court must decide, as it did in the infamous bake-the-cake case, whether the Bill of Rights’s protections for free speech and religion apply to traditional Christians or whether a vindictive state law can force citizens to say things that celebrate that which they think wrong.

Barrett belongs to a small religious group called People of Praise, which is mostly Catholic but also ecumenical and holds a patriarchal biblical view of the different natures and roles of the sexes. Because of this, a former member of People of Praise, Maura Sullivan, wants Barrett out, saying, “I don’t believe that someone in her position, who is a member of this group, could put those biases aside.”

This neatly says far more about the Left’s attitude toward the judiciary than it does about Barrett’s abilities and integrity in judging any given case. The justice has made it plain both in her confirmation hearing and her previous rulings that her decisions rest on the meaning of the Constitution and she does not color them with her religious faith or cultural preferences.

But what does the accusation of bias and prejudice say about the Left and Sullivan? First, it draws attention to the fact that Sullivan, a bisexual woman who was repudiated at 19 by her parents, is almost certainly allowing her own scarred past to influence her judgment. She is actually doing what she accuses Barrett of being likely to do.

It also highlights the Left’s insistence that courts cannot but be, indeed must be, influenced by a judge’s politics and personality. For the Left, the personal is always political, which is why its partisans demand judges be chosen for qualities other than the merits of their jurisprudence. They want black judges and female judges to make courts representative, even though representation is the role of legislatures — think House of Representatives — and the judiciary’s role is simply to apply the law. That is, apply the law as written, not as they would prefer it to be.

When a judge’s skin color, as in the case of Justice Clarence Thomas, or sex, as in the case of Barrett, fails to secure opinions that support woke ends, the Left says the judge should not be allowed to speak or judge — in sum, should be removed from the case.

This is why people on the Left said during Barrett’s confirmation that she should not be allowed to take part in decisions over abortion rights or during Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing that he should be similarly excluded from cases involving claimed women’s rights because he’d been tarred by a false accusation that he sexually assaulted a woman decades ago.

The corollary of the personal being political is that the Left rejects conservative judges and cannot admit the possibility that they’ll set aside their personal views to interpret the law impartially. That setting aside is, however, the adamantine core of a conservative judge’s jurisprudential thinking. That is what it means to be an originalist in constitutional questions and a textualist in statutory interpretation.

The demand that conservatives recuse themselves begs the question. That is, it calls into doubt the premise upon which it is based. It exposes the Left as prone to the very failing it ascribes to its enemies.

There is no case on the docket from which Barrett should recuse herself and no coherent case being made by the Left for her to do so.


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