In her opening statement during Monday morning’s hearing over her nomination to the Supreme Court, Chicago Judge Amy Coney Barrett told lawmakers she believes “in the power of prayer.”
The 48-year-old jurist also thanked the Americans who have supported and prayed for her since President Donald Trump nominated her to the high court.
“I would like to thank the many Americans from all walks of life who have reached out with messages of support over the course of my nomination,” she said. “I believe in the power of prayer, and it has been uplifting to hear that so many people are praying for me.”
In 2017, when she was nominated to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Barrett, who is Catholic, faced attacks over her Christian faith from Democrats.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) argued at the time Barrett could not rule objectively because of her personal religious beliefs. She said, “The dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.”
And Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) asked Barrett to explain the term “orthodox Catholic,” a turn of phrase the judge used in a decades old paper she once co-wrote. He later told The Daily Caller he was comfortable asking Barrett questions about her faith because she had written about it publicly.
He said it is OK to consider Barrett’s faith because she’s been “outspoken.”
“I prefaced my remarks by saying that going into a person’s religion is not the right thing to do in every circumstance,” he told the outlet. “But she’s been outspoken. As a law school professor at Notre Dame, she has taken on the tough challenge of how a person with strong religious beliefs becomes a judge and looks at American law.”
In the lead-up to the Senate confirmation hearings, Feinstein declined to reveal whether she would once again attack Barrett for her Christian faith. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Calif.), on the other hand, told CNN a couple weeks ago she planned to target the judge’s faith.
“They keep telling us that none of the things they wrote or said yesterday should infringe on their decision, but how can we be assured that they can be objective?” she asked. “Why should we say you get a lifetime appointment so that you can reflect your ideological agenda in your decision making?”
In a separate hearing for a different judicial nominee, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who is Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, suggested membership in a major Catholic charity — the Knights of Columbus — is disqualifying for judicial office.
Biden, for his part, said Monday Barrett’s faith should not be discussed during the hearings, noting when he and then-President Barack Obama “were running against the senator who was a Mormon, the governor.” He was referring to now-Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).