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Politics & Policy

Mazie Hirono Doubles Down, Calling Religious Protections the ‘Alt-Right’s Position’

In a statement on the Senate floor yesterday, Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii) doubled down on her attacks against the Catholic group the Knights of Columbus and accused her colleague Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) of “embrac[ing] the alt-right position” by offering a resolution rebuking the use of unconstitutional religious tests.

“If my colleague, the junior Senator from Nebraska, wants to embrace the alt-right’s position by offering this resolution, that is his business,” Hirono said on the floor.

This accusation is as irresponsible as it is unfounded. Sasse has been one of the most outspoken Republican senators against the alt-right, and his response to the white-supremacy rally in Charlottesville was perhaps the most powerful and clear given by any conservative politician.

What’s more, the resolution he offered on Wednesday night — and that the Senate agreed to by unanimous consent — had nothing whatsoever to do with the alt-right. It reaffirmed the constitutional clause forbidding the use of religious tests for public officeholders. Hirono stated in her remarks that Sasse’s resolution was unnecessary “because no religious test is being applied to nominees for Federal office.”

But Hirono herself is the very reason that Sasse offered the resolution in the first place — and her defensive statement clearly shows that she knows it. The resolution was prompted by Hirono’s recent questioning, along with Senator Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), of a Catholic judicial nominee, Brian Buescher, over his membership in the Knights of Columbus.

Hirono and Harris directly asked Buescher whether his Catholic beliefs would prevent him from faithfully executing his duties as a judge, and Hirono went so far as to demand that he drop his membership in the Knights and recuse himself from any case on which the group has taken a position.

Not only did their opposition to Buescher reek of anti-Catholic bigotry, but Hirono’s demand in particular was, very clearly, a religious test. With her new statement, the junior senator from Hawaii has revealed her ignorance of the Constitution and her enmity for our country’s tradition of religious freedom.

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