In the did that really just happen? department, a Democrat congresswoman from Hawaii just called out members of her own party over their religious bigotry after the Catholic-bashing questioning of a federal court nominee. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) penned an op-ed for The Hill on Tuesday in which she implicitly targeted members of her own party for engaging in a weaponization of religion in their questions of the nominee.
Gabbard’s piece, entitled “Elected Leaders who Weaponize Religion are Playing a Dangerous Game,” Gabbard lays out the Article 6 Constitutional case for leaving religion out of any questioning of federal nominees. Article 6 states that “there shall be no religious test” for people who seek public office.
While not naming them directly, it is obvious that Gabbard is singling out Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), both of whom have targeted federal judicial nominee Brian Buescher for his membership in the Catholic organization the Knights of Columbus.
In written follow-up questions to Buescher’s November 28 confirmation hearing, Hirono and Harris looked for assurances that Buescher would renounce the Knights. “The Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions,” Hirono claimed. “If confirmed, do you intend to end your membership with this organization to avoid any appearance of bias?”
Hirono also asked, “If confirmed, will you recuse yourself of all cases in which the Knights of Columbus has taken a position?”
Gabbard spoke directly to Hirono’s line of questioning in her op-ed, writing, “No American should be asked to renounce his or her faith or membership in a faith-based service organization in order to hold public office.”
Harris asked Buescher, who joined the Knights as a teenager 25 years ago, “Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?”
Imagine the uproar if a GOP senator asked a Muslim nominee about his faith associations as they related to possible upcoming court cases. The media would be outraged, and with good reason. Yet, Hirono and Harris feel justified in using Buescher’s Catholic faith as a litmus test for his acceptability as a judge.
Knights of Columbus spokesperson Kathleen Blomquist responded, “Our country’s sad history of anti-Catholic bigotry contributed to the founding of the Knights of Columbus, and we are proud of the many Catholics who overcame this hurdle to contribute so greatly to our country.”
“We were extremely disappointed to see that one’s commitment to Catholic principles through membership in the Knights of Columbus — a charitable organization that adheres to and promotes Catholic teachings — would be viewed as a disqualifier from public service in this day and age.”
Gabbard, who is viewed as a “moderate” Democrat by many, put it more succinctly: “We must call this out for what it is — religious bigotry.”
Gabbard went on to take down leftist icon Senator Dianne Feinstein, who used similar tactics in a 2017 confirmation hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. “No American should be told that his or her public service is unwelcome because ‘the dogma lives loudly within you’ as Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said to Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation hearings in 2017 to serve as U.S. Circuit Court judge in the 7th Circuit.”
The Representative from Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District concluded, “We must stand together, call out religious bigotry, no matter where it comes from, and fight to protect the freedoms and principles that bind us together as Americans.”
The Hawaiian Democrat notes in the piece that she still opposes the nomination of Buescher for the court. Buescher ran unsuccessfully for the Nebraska Attorney General job. During that campaign, he described himself “avidly pro-life.”
Gabbard has other Democrat/Socialist bona fides, including supporting socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for president in 2016. On the John Birch Society’s Freedom Index, which measures a legislator’s adherence to Constitutional principles based on their voting record, her score is 31 percent — decent for a Democrat, but disastrous for the Constitution.
Gabbard, who is considering a 2020 presidential run, may be trying to simply set herself apart as a “reasonable Democrat,” particularly when juxtaposed with Harris, who is also expected to run. But the piece is spot-on in characterizing her fellow Democrats as religious bigots.
And whether the op-ed is a political ploy or not, Gabbard deserves credit for exposing Harris, Hirono, and Feinstein for exactly what they are: bigots who hold their ideology above the Constitution.
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