Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Senate Judiciary Committee
October 5, 2017
morning. Today, we have a number of nominees on today’s agenda and I’d like to
be able to get through the whole agenda. I know that we have votes this morning
as well as other Committee meetings so I’ll keep my remarks brief and would ask
other Members to consider doing so as well so we can get through the entire
have several nominees on the agenda for the first time today and the minority
has requested that they be held over, so the nominations of the following are held
Axon, Northern District of Alabama
Brown, Northern District of Georgia
Farr, Eastern District of North Carolina
Ray, Northern District of Georgia
also have 3 US Attorney nominees on today’s agenda who we’ll be able to vote
we’ll be voting on several nominees. I’d like to say a few words about one of
the nominees on today’s agenda in particular.
Amy Barrett is nominated to serve on the 7th Circuit. She is an
eminently qualified and exceptionally bright nominee who has received praise
and support across the legal profession. But I was surprised and disheartened
by the line of questioning that took place during her hearing.
her hearing, my friends in the minority raised concerns over and asked
questions about her personal religious beliefs. Specifically, her Catholic
beliefs. And their questions strongly implied that she’s too Catholic for their
taste, whatever it means to be “too Catholic.”
mention this because I fear the Committee is heading down a dangerous road if
we continue to ask nominees questions like this. 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
yet I saw Members seeking to understand just how Catholic Professor Barrett
considers herself, as if this is relevant to assessing her credentials to be on
don’t think an evaluation of how religious a nominee is—or isn’t—should ever be
part of our evaluation.
received many letters on this topic including one from Princeton University’s
President who is a former law clerk to Justice Stevens and a constitutional
scholar. He writes that the questions posed to Professor Barrett about her
faith were “not consistent with the principle set forth in the Constitution’s
‘no religious test’ clause” and that the views expressed in her law review article
on Catholic judges are “fully consistent with a judge’s obligation to uphold
the law and the Constitution.” Without objection, I’ll enter this letter into
Barrett has assured the Committee that she strongly believes it’s inappropriate
for a judge to place their religious views before their oath to the
Constitution. Indeed, the main point of her law review article is that if a
judge cannot put aside her personal religious convictions, she should
not be involved in the case.
make one more related comment. Professor Barrett, and a few other nominees,
have a relationship with or ties to the Alliance Defending Freedom group,
which, as several Senators have recently pointed out, has been labeled a “hate
group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
the nominees have pointed out that the SPLC’s designation is highly
controversial. I’d say it’s completely unfounded. The Alliance Defending
Freedom is an advocacy organization that litigates religious liberty cases.
They’ve won 7 cases in front of the Supreme Court the past 7 years. They’re not
outside the mainstream.
difference in viewpoint folks may have with them boil down to policy
differences. But dissent and difference of opinion does not equal hate and it’s
wrong to compare an organization like ADF to that of the KKK or Nazi party,
and, by extension, imply that the nominees before us sympathize with such
actual hate groups.