Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.)
(CNSNews.com) -- After Senate Democrats Diane Feinstein (Calif.) and Dick Durbin (Ill.) repeatedly questioned court nominee Amy Coney Barrett about her Catholic faith last week during a Judiciary Committe hearing, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) issued a statement noting that religious tests for public office are unconstitutional, and adding that "it is breathtaking that Senate Democrats are counting individuals' orthodox Christian faiths as a demerit when evaluating them for official posts."
“Article VI of our Constitution makes it crystal clear that ‘no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States,'" said Rep. Franks in his Sept. 8 statement.
“It is breathtaking that Senate Democrats are counting individuals’ orthodox Christian faiths as a demerit when evaluating them for official posts," he said. "By interrogating Amy Coney Bennett about her Catholic faith, they are arrogantly abrogating their oath of office to the United States Constitution.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) (Screenshot: FNC)
Amy Coney Barrett was nominated by President Donald J. Trump to serve on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Indiana. Barrett is a professor at Notre Dame Law School and she once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 6, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) said to Barrett, "When you read your speeches, 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," said Feinstein.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) pressed Barrett to explain what she meant by the phrase "orthodox Catholic" in an college article she wrote in 1998. Durbin implied that "orthodox Catholic" people are conservatives critical of Pope Francis' liberalism. Durbin also asked Barrett, "Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic."
Barrett said, "I am a Catholic, Senator Durbin." She also stated, ""It is never appropriate for a judge to apply their personal convictions, whether it derives from faith or personal conviction."
Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) (Screenshot: CSPAN)
Continuing in his statement, Rep. Franks said, “Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘The constitutional freedom of religion [is] the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights.’ Jefferson knew that religious liberty is the cornerstone of all other human freedoms, thus religious liberty became the first freedom guaranteed by the Bill of Rights."
“America’s religious diversity and religious freedom have motivated charitable groups from all denominations to selflessly served their fellow human beings -- establishing hospitals, operating homeless shelters, providing counseling services and running agencies for adoption and foster care," said Franks. "More than that, religious institutions provide essential meaning and happiness to their members along with the attending stability that blesses our entire society."
“If America loses her unequivocal commitment to religious freedom, we will face a dark future," said the congressman.
Representative Franks is serving his eighth term in Congress. He sits on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. Franks also serves as chairman of the International Religious Freedom Caucus.
Portrait illustration of Thomas Jefferson.