Judge Brett Kavanaugh is Catholic. The judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is also President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy (also a Catholic) on the Supreme Court.
Of course, the religious affiliation of a judicial nominee shouldn’t matter. Judges are supposed to be impartial guardians of the Constitution who interpret the law, and no more. Not to mention that Article VI of the Constitution expressly prohibits religious tests for public office, so anyone who understands the Constitution would never quiz a candidate for federal office about his religious qualifications.
But many in the media seem preoccupied with Kavanaugh’s religion. Even before he was nominated, mainstream outlets were flaunting their anti-Catholicism by digging into details about President Trump’s judicial advisor Leonard Leo and potential Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the U.S. Court of Appeals to the Seventh Circuit.
Judge Barrett is no stranger to anti-Catholic bias. She had a now-infamous exchange with Senator Dianne Feinstein during her nomination hearing to the Seventh Circuit, wherein Senator Feinstein worried that “the dogma lives loudly within [her].” In other words, Senator Feinstein feared Barrett is too Catholic to be an objective judge.
When Barrett was named as a possible successor to Justice Kennedy, it did not take long for many on social media to dig up a New York Times article on Barrett during her nomination to the Seventh Circuit last year.
The NYT article calls into question Barrett’s membership in an ecumenical Christian group called the People of Praise: “while there certainly was not religious test for office, it would have been relevant for the senators to examine what it means for a judicial nominee to make an oath to a group that could wield significant authority over its members’ lives.”
Membership in religious groups seems to be a concern for the media. Last week, The Daily Beast published an article about Trump advisor Leonard Leo titled “The Secrets of Leonard Leo, the Man Behind Trump’s Supreme Court Pick.” One of Leo’s “secrets” is that he is a member of the Knights of Malta—a Catholic lay order or, if you write for the Daily Beast, a nefarious shadow organization.
“Leo is a member of the secretive, extremely conservative Knights of Malta,” it reads, “a Catholic order founded in the 12th century that functions as a quasi-independent sovereign nation with its own diplomatic corps (separate from the Vatican), United Nations status, and a tremendous amount of money and land.”
There is no mention of how this “tremendous amount of money and land” supports to aid for political refugees and victims of natural disasters.
Even worse, in the view of the Beast, Leo actually holds Catholic beliefs. Beliefs that include that “life begins at conception” and that “’natural law’ is as part of the fabric of the universe as the laws of nature.” Never mind that the first is plain scientific fact, or that natural law is part and parcel of philosophy courses across the globe.
With this sorry record of journalism, it comes as no surprise that a few fret that the dogma may live loudly in Kavanaugh as well. If so, it just might be that this “dogma” is a rather good thing. “I am a part of the vibrant Catholic community in the D.C. area,” he said upon accepting the President’s nomination, “the members of that community disagree about many things but we are united by a commitment to serve.” A commitment that Kavanaugh demonstrated just hours after meeting with senators when he volunteered to serve food to the poor.
Meanwhile, CNN was on the chase asking, “Why do Catholics hold a strong majority on the Supreme Court?” pointing out that both Kennedy and his successor, as well as four other justices, are Catholic. “The strength of Catholics on the bench is strong,” it reads “but the number of Catholics in the US is in decline.”
Is CNN suggesting a quota system for Supreme Court justices? If so, why focus on faith when the Court scarcely reflects the demographics of our nation? All of the Supreme Court justices are graduates of Ivy-league institutions, too. That certainly is not reflective of the nation as a whole. This is to say nothing of the Constitution, which specifically prohibits considering religion as a requirement for public office.
And for good reason – a reason that has been shamelessly on display in the mainstream media.
Perhaps if these reporters would do a little old-fashioned journalism – spending more time with the facts and with real people of faith – they would develop an understanding of those believers who simply want to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God.
But so far, it seems the media will stick with its fear mongering. The shameless anti-Catholic sentiments from the mainstream media shows they might need to brush up on the document that also ensures them the freedom to print such blatantly biased “news.”