A member of President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team wanted Democrats to grill Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s Catholic faith to try to prove that she was unfit to serve on the nation’s highest court.
Barbara McQuade, who serves on Biden’s legal review team, also argued that Justice Brett Kavanaugh should have faced another congressional probe after he was confirmed over claims of sexual misconduct.
McQuade wrote an opinion piece for MSNBC in October, where she argued that Democrats should seek to expose Barrett’s personal faith as inconsistent with the job’s requirement to uphold the rule of law, Fox News reported.
Her argument was based on a paper Barrett wrote more than two decades ago with one of her law school professors. They opined that Catholic judges are “morally precluded” from enforcing the death penalty and should therefore recuse themselves from related cases.
McQuade claimed that Democrats could conclude from those comments that there are a host of other cases — including the issue of abortion — that Barrett would be unfit to rule on as well.
“To expose the risk of Barrett’s refusal to follow precedent, Senate Democrats should focus not on when life begins, but on when it ends,” McQuade wrote in her piece. “Just as [Justice Ruth Bader] Ginsburg exposed discrimination by focusing on the rights of men, Senate Democrats can expose Barrett’s lack of fidelity to the rule of law by exposing her views on the death penalty.”
But Barrett had already addressed the issue, arguing there would be no conflict.
When questioned about the topic during her 2017 confirmation hearing for appellate court, Barrett said the idea expressed in the article from 20 years ago is not necessarily reflective of how she thinks about the same issues now.
During the same hearing, she said it is “never appropriate” for a judge to impose their personal convictions on the law.
“If you’re asking whether I take my faith seriously and I’m a faithful Catholic — I am, although I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge,” Barrett said before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017.
She also said she could not think of any cases that she would feel the need to recuse herself “on the grounds of conscience.”
Barrett was confirmed last month by the Senate along partisan lines, with 52 Republicans in support and 48 Democrats opposed to the Trump appointee, cementing a likely conservative majority for decades.
Barrett, 48, is Trump’s third justice on the court.
Meanwhile, McQuade last year also argued that Justice Kavanaugh should have faced a new congressional probe after he was confirmed to the Supreme Court, according to Fox News.
Kavanaugh was confirmed after an ugly confirmation in October 2018 when several women accused him of sexual misconduct going back to high school. He vehemently denied the claims.
He was confirmed after an FBI investigation found no corroboration of the accusations leveled against him.
But nearly a year later, The New York Times ran a report containing a new allegation against Kavanaugh, from college.
Biden transition team member Barbara McQuade argued that this new allegation warrants more congressional investigation, even though the alleged victim declined comment and could not recall the incident.
“If accurate, this would represent a big mistake on the part of the FBI. Without the truth, a cloud will hang over Kavanaugh’s head and an asterisk will accompany his decisions. The only way to repair the damage is for Congress to pick up where the FBI left off,” McQuade said.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris also said at the time that Kavanaugh’s “place on the Court is an insult to the pursuit of truth and justice” and that “he must be impeached.”
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