This past month, Rev. Robert Sirico wrote an article for the Dallas Morning News titled, “There should be no religious test for the Supreme Court.” The piece was featured in an ongoing opinion commentary on faith called Living Our Faith.
In the article, Rev. Sirico addresses how the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has led to debate among both politicians and the public over when the vacant court seat should be filled, and by whom.
The piece explains how President Trump has nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the seat, noting how the President appointed her to the Chicago-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in May 2017. Following this announcement there has been an onslaught of anti-Catholic sentiment directed at Barrett, “revealing America’s history of anti-Catholic bigotry.”
During Barrett’s confirmation hearing, prior to her appointment to the Court of Appeals, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, voiced this prejudice most memorably when she said, “and I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.”
Sirico notes that Feinstein did not succeed in blocking Barrett’s appointment, but her statement indicates an “almost invisible bigotry,” which illustrates a painful truth that “anti-Catholicism may still be employed in polite conversation.”
Practically, argues Sirico, this is a distraction, because here’s the only meaningful question at hand: Is Barrett qualified to serve on the Supreme Court? Her professional and scholarly accomplishments give us the answer to that question. The alternative of a religious test would mean that anyone with any faith commitment could be disqualified from any similar position, including membership in the Senate.
“The nomination of Barrett is a challenge and opportunity for an America presently in need of soul-searching regarding the scars of intolerance and bigotry, which have been with us since the American founding,” Sirico wrote.