The Atlantic

Should a Judge's Nomination Be Derailed by Her Faith?

During a recent hearing, Democratic senators pushed an appellate-court nominee to explain how her religious beliefs would affect her legal decisions.
Source: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Dianne Feinstein sat alongside other senators at a hearing on Wednesday and questioned two federal appellate-court nominees. She was particularly anxious about Amy Coney Barrett, a law professor at Notre Dame: Feinstein was not convinced that Barrett would uphold Roe v. Wade given her traditional Catholic beliefs.

“The dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein said. “And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.”

While recent Senate hearings have of posing religious tests for public servants, raising constitutional questions, something more complicated seemed to be going on here. Sheldon Whitehouse, the Democratic senator from Rhode Island, expressed frustration that Barrett and her fellow nominee at the hearing, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, refused to discuss how their personal beliefs might shape their legal thinking. He and the other Democratic senators seemed to believe

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