Anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ groups are mobilizing support for President Trump to nominate former Notre Dame law professor Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Barrett only recently became a judge after the Senate confirmed her to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals last fall.
The American Principles Project’s Terry Schilling went on the air Friday afternoon with the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, whose show is a font of anti-gay and anti-Muslim religious bigotry, to promote both group’s support for Barrett. Schilling used the show to promote a website, www.scotusnominee.com, which is gathering signatures on Barrett’s behalf. The Hill reported this morning that the two groups have joined with the Judicial Action Group to send Trump a letter urging that he nominate Barrett.
Fischer was excited that while some conservatives have suggested that Trump appoint a “stealth candidate”—one whose position on Roe v Wade is unknown—Barrett is “known on this issue” and likely to face hard questioning on it.
Schilling: “She’s a constitutionalist. And I don’t know how she’s going to handle the confirmation hearings or how she’ll address that issue, but we do know that she is a strong, practicing Catholic who clerked for Justice Scalia, and she was a Notre Dame law professor there. She’s got the resume, and she’s got the history, that lets us know that she is pro-life, and that she is going to interpret the Constitution as it’s written. And she’s going to use the principles of the founding to guide the interpretation of the Constitution and that requires protecting the right to life.”
Fischer: “She is on record as saying that Roe v Wade, that Roe was ‘created through judicial fiat.’ In other words, that judges created whatever right is enshrined in their ruling. That’s not found in legislation, that’s not found in the Constitution. And so for that reason, she says that Roe v Wade is not a settled issue, that precedent is not something that’s so sacred that you never can question it, you never can overturn it. She believes therefore that Roe v Wade is something that can be reversed.”
Fischer and Schilling also discussed Barrett’s public opposition to the Affordable Care Act and the Supreme Court ruling that upheld it, and her belief that federal civil rights legislation that bans discrimination on the basis of sex does not apply to gender identity.
Like other Religious Right activists and right-wing pundits have done in recent days, Fischer and Schiller made the case that Trump should appoint Barrett, because that will give conservatives the opportunity to portray Democratic opponents of her confirmation as anti-religious. It’s a tactic long used by right-wing activists and Republican senators to smear Democrats who question nominees about their judicial philosophy.
In the case of Amy Coney Barrett, Religious Right activists generated a smear campaign directed at Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other Democrats after they questioned Barrett about her writings on the topic of when a judge should recuse herself when the law conflicted with her religious beliefs. They were specifically asking about an article in which she had explored questions about a Catholic judge balancing church teaching with their duty to uphold the law.
Fischer said on Friday, echoing Religious Right charges last year, that Democrats “went after her on the issue of faith.” Schilling called her “the victim of anti-religious bigotry.”
“I would hope that Trump would nominate her so that we have a chance at blowing that type of anti-religious bigotry up and making sure that every American voter sees just how anti-religious and anti-Christian the left has grown over the past several years,” Schilling said.
One noteworthy aspect of the Fischer-Schilling exchange was Fischer expressing his outrage at what he claimed was a religious test being imposed by Democrats in violation of Article VI of the Constitution. Fischer has a particularly extremist view of the Constitution. He has said repeatedly, as recently as this May, that only Christianity is protected by the First Amendment and that non-Christians “do not have First Amendment rights.” Fischer has a long record of advocating for religious tests, saying last October that Muslims “can and should be excluded from Congress.” He has previously argued that Muslims should not be free to serve in the military.
The American Family Association has been designated an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It and APP are among the groups profiled in People For the American Way Foundation’s report on right-wing groups that are weaponizing religious liberty.
The American Principles Project was founded by Robert George, the conservative Catholic professor who has provided intellectual muscle to the anti-LGBTQ movement. George was a drafter of the Manhattan Declaration, which united conservative Catholics and Evangelicals in opposition to abortion and marriage equality. APP has urged passage of state and federal legislation that would give legal cover to anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the name of religious liberty. Schilling has argued that allowed transgender people to use bathrooms appropriate for their gender identity is part of a “war on women” being waged by “the American left.”