Rabbinic Group Deplores Attacks on Coney Barrett’s Faith and Family
October 2, 2020

The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing over 1500 traditional, Orthodox rabbis in matters of public policy, today condemned criticism of Amy Coney Barrett, nominee to the position of associate justice on the US Supreme Court, based upon her religious views, membership in religious associations, or her family. The rabbis deplored these attacks upon the nominee as “based in bigotry and bias.”

In Article VI, the Constitution of the United States requires that a federal officer “be bound by Oath or Affirmation to support this Constitution.” But as long as that condition is met, the Constitution proscribes questions about religion, stating that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Religious tests were common in England, used to “protect” the government “against perils from non-conformists of all denominations, infidels, turks, jews, heretics, papists, and sectaries.” The Constitution forbade this, and did not limit its prohibition to Protestant denominations, as was true in several of the colonies. Rather, in conjunction with the guarantees on free exercise of religion provided by the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers made religious faith (or lack thereof) entirely irrelevant — the US Supreme Court later struck down state laws which prohibited clergy from holding office.

Contrary to these requirements, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) denigrated Ms. Coney Barrett’s religious views when the latter was nominated to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017, stating that “whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma… the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.”

“Invasion into a person’s family choices, including adoption, is simply reprehensible,” said Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer, Chairman of the CJV Rabbinic Circle, “while questions about her religious views violate the separation of church and state required by the US Constitution. The fact that critics must resort to such bigoted lines of attack indicate that when it comes to the relevant issues, her credentials, experience, jurisprudence and expertise, there is nothing to criticize.”

When running for President in 1960, John F. Kennedy observed that objections to his own Catholic faith could as easily be used against “a Jew, or a Quaker, or a Unitarian, or a Baptist.”

“If a person’s Jewish religious views were attacked in this fashion, we would immediately and correctly identify that as Antisemitism” added Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, Vice President of the CJV, “and thus it is especially incumbent upon us to condemn it.”

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