Is a Religious Test Being Applied to One Supreme Court Contender?

Amy Coney Barrett

Two names emerged over the weekend as the leading candidates to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court—D.C. Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Chicago Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Progressives don’t like either because of their originalist judicial philosophy, but one in particular is feeling their scorn—Judge Barrett.

David French, writing for National Review, offers an opinion as to why.

“So, beyond her obvious originalist judicial philosophy (shared to varying degrees by every person on Trump’s list of potential nominees), what’s the problem with Judge Barrett? Why do some progressives single her out for particular scorn?

“It turns out that she’s a faithful Christian who lives a Christian life very similar to the lives of millions upon millions of her fellow American believers.

“No, really, that’s the objection.”

The Qualifications of Amy Coney Barrett 

Barrett’s credentials are impeccable. Law review, appellate-court clerkship, Supreme Court clerkship, elite law-firm experience, law professor at an elite law school, and now experience as a federal judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. She’s also the mother of seven, including one child with special needs and two children adopted from Haiti.

But during her 2017 confirmation hearing for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Barrett’s faith became an issue. French wrote that Senator Dianne Feinstein “imposed an obvious religious test on her nomination.”

“When you read your speeches,” Feinstein said during the hearing, “the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for, for years in this country.”

Barrett was eventually confirmed.

Amy Coney Barrett and People of Praise

After Barrett’s name emerged as a leading Supreme Court candidate, dark murmurings over her religious affiliations surfaced. The affiliation is with an ecumenical group called “People of Praise,” which the New York Times reported on last fall. Law professor and Senate candidate Richard Painter tweeted the Times story over the weekend and said People of Praise “looks like a cult”; another prominent critic one-upped Painter by calling it a “secretive religious cult.”

People of Praise was founded in 1971 in South Bend, Indiana, with a core group of 29 people. The group is part of the Catholic “Charismatic Renewal” movement. The original South Bend group now includes about 350 members, split into several smaller “branches.” About 450 people belong to People of Praise in the Twin Cities area in Minnesota, about 200 in Northern Virginia, and other smaller groups operate in 11 other states. The group also operates three Christian junior high and high schools in its three largest areas. By the late 1980s, according to the World Christian Encyclopedia, up to 10 million people in the United States were participating in the movement in some way.

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Bob Ditmer
Bob Ditmer has worked in Christian media for more than 20 years including positions with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Focus on the Family.

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