14 October 2020, The Tablet

Catholicism, controversy and the Supreme Court

US politics

Catholicism, controversy and the Supreme Court

Judge Amy Coney Barrett
Photo: PA/Pool via CNP, Jim LoScalzo


Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, is facing scrutiny by the Senate. Supporters suggest her critics are motivated by a similar bigotry concerning loyalty to the Pope over that to the Constitution which John F. Kennedy had to overcome in 1960

A video advertisement mounted by the Judicial Crisis Network intercuts an image of Barrett, a judge on a federal appeals court, with excerpts from Kennedy’s famous speech in 1960 to an audience of Protestant ministers in Houston, Texas. The soundbite includes Kennedy’s warning that “while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew – or a Quaker – or a Unitarian – or a Baptist … Today I may be the victim – but tomorrow it may be you.”

The religious bigotry theme has also been embraced by Mitch McConnell (inset), the Senate majority leader who is pushing for the expeditious confirmation of Barrett even though he blocked President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee in 2016, claiming that in an election year the voters should have a say in who would be named to the court.

“We do not often hear people say they simply dislike a particular religion altogether,” McConnell intoned. “Thank goodness, we are mostly past that kind of bigotry. No, going all the way back to Jack Kennedy, the more common accusation has been something a little subtler: that people of deep faith, or certain faiths, are incapable of being fair or objective.”

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