Racial Equality

The Problem With Amy Coney Barrett Is Her Record, Not Her Religion

  Rob Boston

Yesterday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) issued a statement accusing Democrats and the media of attacking Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett over her Roman Catholic faith.

There’s one problem with McConnell’s assertion: No one is actually doing that.

Barrett has been the subject of legitimate criticism for her stance on policy issues. It’s entirely appropriate to examine her record on any number of issues that could come before the Supreme Court. After all, Barrett is being considered for a lifetime appointment on the highest court in the land. Due diligence requires that we closely scrutinize her past rulings and statements and that the Senate Judiciary Committee asks her some tough questions.

Americans United has examined Barrett’s record and issued a report that’s based entirely on her views on church-state separation and religious freedom. As the report notes:

  • Barrett joined a decision of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowing Illinois to exempt religious services from its emergency health order to protect people from the spread of COVID-19.
  • Barrett signed on to a letter from the Becket Fund, a legal group that works to erode church-state separation, insisting that employers should have a religious freedom right to fully deny their employees contraceptive coverage.
  • Barrett helped train lawyers through a program sponsored by Alliance Defending Freedom, a Religious Right legal organization that has been at the forefront of attempts to misuse religious freedom to roll back LGBTQ and reproductive rights.
  • In a recent law review article, Barrett disagreed with the decision in a pivotal church-state case that protects the religious freedom of public school students and their families by ensuring that they are not forced to participate in prayers at high school graduation ceremonies.

As Americans United President and CEO Rachel Laser has noted, “Some will point to Barrett’s religious views and personal affiliations as reasons to oppose her. But a nominee’s religious beliefs are not relevant; her position on church-state separation is. If Barrett is confirmed to the Supreme Court, that separation is at risk. The right to love whom you choose, the right to make decisions about your reproductive and other health care, the religious-freedom rights of students and families in our public schools, the right to decide whether your money will fund religious practices, the right to be treated the same under the law regardless of your religious or nonreligious beliefs – all are at stake. We need our courts to protect the religious freedom and rights of everyone – not just of a privileged minority.”

The problem with Barrett is her record, not her religion. McConnell is attempting to distract Americans from Barrett’s alarming views by raising false claims of religious bias.

No one should fall for this. Barrett’s record – and her record alone – is reason enough for the Senate to reject her nomination. Please tell your Senators to oppose Barrett’s confirmation.

Photo: Screenshot from C-SPAN

Congress needs to hear from you!

Urge your legislators to co-sponsor the Do No Harm Act today.

The Do No Harm Act will help ensure that our laws are a shield to protect religious freedom and not used as a sword to harm others by undermining civil rights laws and denying access to health care.

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