Law & the Courts

‘Religion Should Not Enter Into It’: Joe Manchin Criticizes Focus on Amy Coney Barrett’s Catholic Beliefs

Senator Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) speaks during an oversight hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., June 16, 2020. (Toni Sandys/Reuters Pool)

Senator Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) on Wednesday criticized fellow Senate Democrats for their scrutiny of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s religious beliefs, saying “religion should not enter into” the conversation over who will fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Barrett, the reported front-runner for President Trump’s nomination, has been attacked over her Catholic beliefs, with some comparing her purported membership in People of Praise — which she has never confirmed — to the dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale. 

In an appearance on Fox & Friends, Manchin defended Barrett’s right to her religious beliefs.

“I have heard your colleagues in the Senate query her about her religion, which makes you wonder should a person’s religion disqualify them from a job on the Supreme Court? Because it sounds like some people on your side think that it should,” host Steve Doocy asked.

“Well, I guess whatever side you’re on, they can pick whatever they want to pick. I’m Catholic, OK? And religion should not enter into it. It sure doesn’t with me,” Manchin said.

When asked if “anything about her Catholic background” bothered him, the moderate Democrat replied, “Not at all.”

“No. We are who we are, how we were raised, where we were raised, and who raised us,” Manchin said. “That being said, whether you’re Catholic, whether you’re Protestant, whether you’re Jewish, evangelical, whatever it may be, God bless you. You worship who you want. You worship how you want. You worship the same God, all of us do.”

He continued: “So with that being said, it’s awful to bring in religion. It truly is.”

Barrett’s religious background was also center-stage in her 2017 confirmation hearing for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals when Senator Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) criticized her religious background.

“Why is it that so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling that, you know, dogma and law are two different things? And I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma,” Feinstein said. “The law is totally different, and I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.”

Manchin called for a return to civility and bipartisanship in the Senate.

“Let’s keep it bipartisan, please. Let’s try to bring this country back together. We’re too darn good for this,” he said.

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