There's something refreshingly honest about those Democrats revealing their bigotry in the halls of the U.S. Senate.
They did so in questioning Amy Coney Barrett, a law professor from Notre Dame, a Catholic and woman of impeccable academic credentials, who has been nominated to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, a Catholic town.
Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin and Dianne Feinstein are applying a religious test to public office, something expressly forbidden by the Constitution. And by their questions to Barrett, they reveal themselves.
This evokes a line of inquiry from an earlier age, one asked of leftists during the Cold War but now directed by the political left at Americans of faith. Concealed in their velvet voices was this meaning, this underlying shiv:
Are you now, or have you ever been, a Christian?
"Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?" cooed Durbin in that oily voice of his.
It got worse with Feinstein.
"When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you," said Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. "And that's of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country."
The dogma lives loudly within you? This is a political witch hunt, cloaked in soft voices and the weight of federal power, and for that they should be ashamed.
The president of Notre Dame, the Rev. John Jenkins, responded in an open letter calling Feinstein and the others out.
"It is chilling to hear from a United States Senator that this might now disqualify someone from service as a federal judge. I ask you and your colleagues to respect those in whom 'dogma lives loudly' — which is a condition we call faith," Jenkins wrote. "For the attempt to live such faith while one upholds the law should command respect, not evoke concern."
But among many Democrats and the left, Christian faith does not command respect. It is no longer merely suspect; it is a threat.
Would Democratic senators dare ask such questions of a Muslim or a Jew? No. Their own party would condemn them, as would every newspaper editorial board in the country.
The brains of Feinstein and Durbin could not possibly conceive of such a question to someone who wasn't Christian, lest they burn themselves upon their own secular stake.
But a Christian, a Roman Catholic? Hey, that's different, isn't it?
There is no angry push by establishment media to condemn what was done to Barrett. The establishment pack hasn't hounded other Democrats to demand a clear denunciation. Instead, a few weak defenses were thrown up, essentially blaming Barrett for making public statements about reconciling faith and public life.
And like the questions in the Senate, they reveal themselves. It is by the sound of their defensive mewing that you know them.
The Constitution is clear that religious faith may not be used to prevent an American from holding office. But there is another faith now, a strident faith, that of the left and anyone who stands in its way is to be marked.
Durbin is a Catholic Democrat from blue Illinois, and he seeks votes in Chicago. That he would ask whether someone was an "orthodox Catholic" is stunning.
Chicago is a Catholic town, a Democratic organization town in which parishes helped form the backbone of the Democratic machine. The numbers of churchgoers across America is dwindling, including Chicago Catholics.
But there are many who stay true to their faith.
What Feinstein, Durbin and others seized on was a paper Barrett co-authored some 20 years ago, as a law student, about the obligations of faith in public life.
In the article, co-written with a professor, Barrett the law student suggested that should a Catholic judge believe he or she were unable to reconcile the law and faith, say, in a death penalty case, then the judge should recuse themselves.
But what Barrett was driving at is that the Constitution, not religion, is paramount always, and that a judge's religious beliefs must not, must never, supersede or trump the law.
Taking a judicial appointee's comments out of context and using tribal political outrage to befoul them is not unique among Democrats. Republicans play this game too. It is called politics.
But the Constitution is quite clear on religious tests. There may be no religious tests. And still, they used her faith as a club to pound home the message that Barrett might not abide by the law she'd be sworn to uphold.
To Durbin's mealy-mouthed question as to whether she was an "orthodox Catholic," Barrett answered clearly.
"If you're asking whether I'm a faithful Catholic, I am," Barrett said, "although I would stress that my own personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear on the discharge of my duties as a judge."
What is Amy Coney Barrett's true sin?
She's a mother of seven children. She was a law clerk for the late conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
This is about abortion.
And the Democratic strategy is about tarnishing Barrett with her faith, to suggest Roman Catholics are too extreme, in order to prevent her from getting on a judicial track to the Supreme Court.
This is not only shameful, it is dangerous.
And it was revealed, quite publicly the other day, in the U.S. Senate.
John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Twitter, @john_kass.
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