Senate Democrats are questioning whether President Donald Trump’s latest court appointment can judge “fairly and impartially” because he’s a member of a leading Catholic charity.
In late November, Trump nominated Brian C. Buescher, a 43-year-old lawyer based in Omaha, to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court of Nebraska. But Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) are very concerned about his Knights of Columbus membership.
Lawmakers sent written questions to Buescher on Dec. 5. In her filing, Hirono argued the Knights of Columbus has historically “taken a number of extreme positions,” including an opposition to same-sex marriage, according to the Catholic News Agency.
Hirono asked Buescher if he’d quit the charitable organization “to avoid any appearance of bias.”
“The Knights of Columbus does not have the authority to take personal political positions on behalf of all of its approximately two million members,” the nominee said in response. “If confirmed, I will apply all provisions of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges regarding recusal and disqualification.”
Harris attacked Buescher from a different direction, describing the Knights of Columbus as an “all-male society” that has for years “opposed a woman’s right to choose,” meaning its pro-life.
Nevertheless, the California Democrat pressed further. She asked the lawyer if he agreed with Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson’s statement that abortion constitutes “the killing of the innocent on a massive scale.”
“I did not draft this language,” Buescher replied. “If confirmed, I would be bound by precedent of the United States Supreme Court and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and would not be guided by statements made by others.”
Republican lawmakers and conservative leaders hit back against the questions from Hirono and Harris.
Alarming questions from Senate Democrats, showing they are getting more and more comfortable with imposing religious tests on Federal judicial nominees. https://t.co/iSAXByJl0M
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) December 23, 2018
Will not tolerate disqualifying judicial nominees because of charitable works and personal religious opinions.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) December 24, 2018
— Fr. Matthew, LC ??? (@FrMatthewLC) December 22, 2018
Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, said in a statement obtained by Fox News that the liberal lawmakers’ questions weren’t just about the Knights of Columbus. Instead, she argued, it is about an “ongoing attack from the extremist left of the Democratic Party to silence people of faith and run them out of engaging in public service based on their religious beliefs.”
“It is pure and simple religious bigotry,” she added.
As for the Catholic charity, Knights of Columbus Senior Vice President Kevin Shinkle said the organization has valued the support its received following the lawmakers pointed questions against Buescher’s volunteerism.
“The Knights of Columbus is grateful for the support of so many people who recognize our charitable efforts and understand that mainstream religious beliefs shouldn’t disqualify anyone from serving their country,” he told Fox News.