Sen. Young: ‘We Do Not Have Religious Tests For Office… Period’

Religious freedom presser

Republicans Are Fighting Back Against Democrats' Attempt To ‘Impose An Inappropriate, Unconstitutional, And Highly Disconcerting Religious Litmus Test’ On Judicial Nominees

U.S. CONSTITUTION: “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” (U.S. Constitution, Article 6)

SEN. MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “President Trump has done a terrific job of nominating judges who are already helping to restore the courts to their intended function in our system of government. … Amy Barrett is a professor of law at one of our nation’s premier law schools. … Amy Barrett happens to be a nominee who is Catholic--and who speaks freely and openly about her faith and its importance to her. For some on the Left, that seems to be a disqualifying factor for her nomination.” (Sen. McConnell, Floor Remarks, 10/26/2017)

  • McCONNELL: “Let me remind colleagues that Article 6 of the Constitution provides that ‘no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office.’ According to the Founders, this was done to ensure that ‘The people may employ any wise or good citizen in the execution of the various duties of the government.’” (Sen. McConnell, Floor Remarks, 10/30/2017)

SEN. TODD YOUNG (R-IN): “…we do not have religious tests for office in the United States of America, period. … The president of Princeton University has also asked the Senate to avoid a religious test in judicial appointments. In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, President Eisgruber wrote that Professor Barrett and all nominees ‘should be evaluated on the basis of their professional ability and jurisprudential philosophy, not their religion.’ He wrote: ‘Every Senator and every American should cherish and safeguard vigorously the freedom guaranteed by the inspiring principle set forth in Article VI of the United States Constitution.’” (Sen. Young, Congressional Record, S.6906, 10/31/2017)

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): “…the Democrats are saying women who may have personal beliefs consistent with their religion aren’t eligible to be federal judges, even when they assure the Committee over and over again that they strongly believe in following binding Supreme Court precedent. If that’s the case—if the minority is enforcing a religious litmus test on our nominees—this is an unfortunate day for the Senate and for the country. Others have spoken on the issue of a ‘religious test’ but I’ll remind my colleagues the Constitution specifically provides that ‘no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office under the United States.’ It’s one of the most important founding principles.” (Sen. Grassley, Press Release, 10/31/2017)

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): “If we tolerate this sort of commentary and these religious tests, I fear that even worse, more openly hostile religious discrimination will result down the road. We should not start down this path. I join my colleague, the senior Senator from Utah, who questioned quite legitimately whether certain of our colleagues were beginning to impose an inappropriate, unconstitutional, and highly disconcerting religious litmus test for public office. Of course, there should never be such a test, not in the United States of America under this Constitution.” (Sen. Cornyn, Congressional Record, S.6906, 10/31/2017)

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): “As former Chairman of the Judiciary Committee… I have to say that we stoop pretty low if we start to raise questions of religious belief before somebody can serve on the federal judiciary. Now I hope that that type of questioning will hit the dust bin of history where it belongs. … And I think it's pretty bad if we say to people who are really good people that because of your religious belief you cannot serve on the federal judiciary. If we go down that route, then can you imagine all the other issues that can be raised of -- about various people and how difficult it would be to pick federal judges. There's prejudice involved here.” (Sen. Hatch, Press Conference, 10/30/2017)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): “There was a time when Anti-Catholic bigotry could regularly be heard in the halls of congress … a time where Blaine Amendments were being adopted across the country explicitly as an effort to bar Catholics. To erect legal barriers to Catholics being accepted in our society. I think a great many of us had hoped we had put those dark days behind us. That that sorry chapter in our history had been relegated to the history books. And yet we are seeing a re-emergence of that same hostility to faith and that same hostility to the Catholic Church. …today in this Senate, we have seen repeatedly nominees grilled not for their qualifications, not for their records, but for their faith.” (Sen. Cruz, Press Conference, 10/30/2017)

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): “It is one of the grand issues of our day that amazingly enough is unresolved, can you have a faith in America and live it? Are we going to be a nation where you can have freedom of worship or if you want to worship over in that place, at that time and no one sees it, that's ok but if you bring it out into the public square that's a problem, that seems to be the primary issue of debate at this point. And it seems odd because our Constitution is very clear.  We don't have freedom of worship we have the free exercise of religion, meaning you can have a faith and live your faith and it not get in the way of both your public service or your public enterprise. As odd as it may seem this I thought was an issue that was resolved in the 1960's when a president named J.F.K. was running. When John Kennedy stood in front of a group of protestant ministers in Houston, Texas and said, if I run in this election and lose I’ll happily return to the senate but if I fail to be elected because of my faith, then 40 million Americans have lost their right to be able to be president the day they were baptized. The question we're resolving this week among many things dealing with judges is again resolving the issue of the flee exercise of religion. Do Americans need not apply to be judges, to be in public office, to be able to serve in the federal government if they have a faith and they live their faith? Or can we as we have said for more than 200 years, you can have any faith, live your faith, or have no faith at all and still be a great American. I'm shocked that this is still a conversation in our nation that we've become a nation that's become afraid of people of faith. You can have a faith and you can have a name on your faith just don't ever let anyone see it. That's not who we are. That's not who we should be.” (Sen. Lankford, Press Conference, 10/30/2017)

SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT): “The [Constitutional] Convention had voted unanimously to ban religious tests for Federal office. The language the Framers inserted into the Constitution was unequivocal upon this point. It said that ‘no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.’ When the Founding Fathers wrote the word ‘ever,’ they meant it. That word means something in the Constitution, and we need to protect it. I feel the need to stress this point because of the conduct of some of my colleagues. … This is disturbing. This is not what the country is supposed to be about—some sort of inquiry into one’s religious beliefs as a condition precedent for holding public office in the U.S. Government. These strange questions have nothing to do with the nominee’s competence, patriotism, or ability to serve among and for Americans of different faiths equally. In fact, they have little to do with this life at all. Instead, they have to do with the afterlife—what comes after we die in this life. To my knowledge, the OMB and the Seventh Circuit have no jurisdiction over that.” (Sen. Lee, Congressional Record, S.5042, 9/7/2017)

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R-AZ): “The Framers of the Constitution were fearful of this very thinking. They understood the importance of religious participation and foresaw the benefits religious believers of all backgrounds would contribute to the common good. They also knew, from centuries of war and suffering in Europe, the high cost of religious intolerance. That is why they made it clear in article VI of the Constitution that no public officers could be subject to a religious test. This edict was entirely unambiguous in its language and its intent. This country is to be served by people of all faiths, committed to the Constitution and the common good. It is up to us to question the qualifications and jurisprudence of nominees, not their religious views. Unfortunately, that is not what is happening…” (Sen. Flake, Congressional Record, S.6904-5, 10/31/2017)

  • SEN. FLAKE: “This very body is made up of individuals from around 15 different faiths. Each of us has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution. Each of us here feels we can competently carry out our duties, as do those in the judicial branch who swear a similar oath to uphold the Constitution.” (Sen. Flake, Congressional Record, S.6904-5, 10/31/2017)

SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): “It is shocking, in many ways, that it would be something we would be talking about in the United States of America today. The idea that a qualification for public office would require a religious test, in fact, was specifically prohibited not just in the Bill of Rights, in the protections for religion there, but in the Constitution itself. The people who wrote the Constitution did so at a time when a religious test was often the test for service and of fealty to a specific religion or the tradition of fealty to the monarch, who was the head of the church in that country. Many countries had a church where the monarch was clearly understood to be the principal representative of the church in that country. Even in a time when that was still the case and fresh in their minds and when there may have been religious tests in some of the colonies--even then--in the Constitution, article VI says: ‘No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.’ So is it even appropriate to ask a religious question? Most questions in America you are free to ask, but are you free to ask that under the determination of the Constitution, as if it matters?” (Sen. Blunt, Congressional Record, S.6907, 10/31/2017)

  • SEN. BLUNT: “President Jefferson--not known to be the most religious of all of our Presidents and maybe to be the most questioning of religion generally--said in a letter in the last year of his Presidency that of all of the rights that we have, the one we should hold most dear is what we called the right of conscience--the right to believe what your conscience leads you to believe is the right thing to believe. Jefferson said that is the right we should hold most dear. Whether you are Muslim or Jewish or Catholic or Buddhist or any other faith or no faith at all, there is no religious test. For any individual and for all individuals of any faith or all faiths or no faith, religious freedom includes the right of an individual to live, to work, to associate, and, if they choose, to worship in accordance with their beliefs.” (Sen. Blunt, Congressional Record, S.6907, 10/31/2017)


Related Issues: Nominations, Judicial Nominations