Not since John F. Kennedy ran for president have we witnessed the cudgel of religious bigotry that the political left is determined to use to batter to death the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
An accomplished woman whose judicial credentials are beyond reproach is not being challenged by Democrats because of her temperament, her intellect or her character – but because of her religious beliefs and how she chooses to practice them in her life.
She has been nominated to fill the seat of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Not to fill her shoes.
Nobody can fill the shoes of a woman who, despite our differences in political perspectives, I view as one of the most impactful members of the U.S. Supreme Court in the modern era.
The shared backdrops of our upbringings in Brooklyn – along with our repeated health battles – only amplified my admiration for this American treasure.
Justice Ginsburg possessed the decency, character, and intellect that serving as a Supreme Court justice demands and that the American people deserve. Her qualities guided my evaluations of nominee John Roberts and Samuel Alito during my time in the United States Senate, just as those qualities subsequently would have served in considering Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were I still in the Senate at the time of their respective nominations.
In direct contrast to the robust debate and deliberation I participated in while serving in the Senate, this particular process has rapidly devolved into an exercise in defamation.
My decision to join the discussion about Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation, however, is driven not by my role as a former public official, but rather as a parent.
More specifically, as a Jewish parent of two alumni of Trinity School in Minnesota who deeply laments that those opposed to Judge Barrett’s confirmation created a campaign rooted in religious bigotry. It is a campaign that has even managed to malign the alma mater of my children due to its association with People of Praise, a “charismatic Christian community” that counts the nominee as a member.
It’s a remarkable thing to suggest that Barrett, a mother of seven who is but 51 votes away from the peak of her profession – along with Beth Schmitz, who serves as Trinity’s Head of School – could possibly be considered “subjugated women” because of their association with People of Praise.
Let’s be clear: Parents of Trinity students and families affiliated with People of Praise are not extreme members of a “cult.” They are, overwhelmingly, not unlike other members of our America who happen to be steeped in Judeo-Christian tradition.
I don’t need to defend Amy Coney Barrett’s credentials or qualifications to the nation’s highest court. Her life experience and her own voice will do that more than adequately.
However, the vitriol directed at those associated with Trinity School has compelled me to respond to the bigotry extended to an entire community of people doing nothing more than practicing their faith.
My children graduated from Trinity School at River Ridge in Eagan, Minn. In the more than three decades since it first opened its doors it has distinguished itself as a model for Minnesota schools as the state’s lone high school to earn, not once, but three times, the National Blue Ribbon award.
This award, widely considered to be the highest accolade for an American school, is a reflection of the fact that Trinity students’ SAT and ACT scores are well above the national average and the administration, faculty and school community do a remarkable job of preparing students not just for college, but the broader world they will encounter upon graduation.
It isn’t just Judge Barrett who has become a target of the venom of the left in their attempts to bring her down. Now, too, has the entire Trinity community. One would have hoped that we had gotten beyond this sad chapter in American life. Yet, the actions of far too many Democrats make it clear we have not.
In his response to reservations about his own religious beliefs, then-Sen. John F. Kennedy cautioned in the 1960 campaign that “for while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been – and may someday be again – a Jew, or a Quaker, or a Unitarian, or a Baptist.”
The fear held by the Democratic standard-bearer of the ‘60s, however, is now at risk of becoming the Democratic standard itself – 60 years later. For rather than retracting that finger of suspicion, Democrats have unfortunately pointed it at an entire community of people doing nothing more than practicing their faith.
In 2017, Sen. Dianne Feinstein took her first shot at Judge Barrett by claiming that her faith was little more than “dogma” and that it “lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.”
Sen. Dick Durbin doubled down with his outrageous willingness to extend Feinstein’s bigotry by asking, “Do you consider yourself an Orthodox Catholic?”
And while the Judiciary Committee’s ranking member refrained from reviving her religious test in recent days as a result of its toxicity, it is critical to remain wary of any effort by Democrats, their media handmaids, or outside groups to reprise those attacks against Barrett because of her faith and her religion – particularly as the prospect of her confirmation becomes more evident.
In their four years of rigorous Latin instruction, Trinity School students like my daughter Sarah and son Jacob wrestled with and learned from great orators and poets like Cicero and Virgil – in the original language.
Now, without stepping foot in a Trinity classroom, the American people are getting versed in the meaning of argumentum ad hominem.