Oct 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Sen. Josh Hawley plans to push Democrats to renounce "religious test"


Sen. Josh Hawley meets with Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the Mansfield Room at the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 1. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, told Axios that at next week's Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, he will call on Democrats to preemptively renounce any attacks on her Catholic faith.

  • "I want to hear that out of their mouths from every Judiciary Committee member," Hawley told me during an Axios News Shapers virtual event. "I'm going to call it out at every single opportunity."
  • "Silence is not enough," Hawley continued. "Silence is acquiescence. They've already trafficked in these stereotypes and this bigotry. ... So now it's not enough to go silent and say: 'Well, OK, maybe we'll emphasize something else."

The big picture: Hawley — who at 40 is the youngest senator, but who has made a name for himself by being aggressive on China, tech and economic populism — said Senate Democrats "have been attacking Judge Barrett left and right."

  • "They started it three years ago at her first set of confirmation hearings," for her current post as a U.S. Court of Appeals judge. "[W]e've seen a pattern from Democrats over the years — not just with Judge Barrett, but other judges up before the committee — where they have interrogated them on their faith."

Hawley said questions about her faith amount to "an attempt to impose a religious test that Article 6 of the Constitution explicitly says cannot be applied in this country."

  • "It's a form of religious bigotry," Hawley said. "[I]t's time for every single one of the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee to renounce it and to pledge that they will abide by the Constitution and they will not seek to impose religious tests."

Between the lines: Hawley knows the court from the inside: He was a law clerk to Chief Justice John Roberts.

  • "I did work in the building," Hawley said. "It was one of my first jobs out of law school. I actually met my wife doing that, Mike. ... We got married after our year of clerking together there on the courts."
  • "I've gotten to litigate, subsequently, at that court. I'm a member of the bar of the court. So, it's a place I know relatively well.

Hawley said Roberts "runs his chambers with great efficiency."

At the end of our conversation, the senator — who has two sons ages 7 and 5— announced that he and his wife, Erin, are expecting a third shortly after Election Day.

  • It's a girl.
  • "2020 has been a heck of a year," he said. "But for the Hawley family, it's a heck of a good year."

Watch Axios News Shapers event.

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