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First They Came for the Catholics, Then for the Christians, and Then for the High School Kids
Neomi Rao (Wikimedia Commons)

The War on Catholic Judicial Appointments began in 2017 when Dianne Feinstein used her seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee to go after Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit — who hopefully soon will be a selection for the United States Supreme Court. In Feinstein’s shockingly bigoted words barked at Judge Barrett: “The dogma lives loudly within you.” That was not enough for Sen. Feinstein, whose own lineage traces to maternal grandparents who abandoned Judaism for Russian Orthodox Christianity long before she ever was born. (Interesting, isn’t it, how many “Jews” are not Jews?) Thus, Feinstein graduated from San Francisco’s Convent of the Sacred Heart High School. In berating Judge Barrett’s devout faith, Feinstein rhetorically asked: “Why is it that so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling?” Why indeed. Problems with an unsympathetic teacher in eleventh grade? Politics in California’s one-party state?

Next came Brett M. Kavanaugh, another devout Catholic with an impeccable life record of personal dignity and character. The Senate Judiciary Committee attempted to destroy this extraordinary human being, husband, and father with a despicable mix of vile character assassination, insidiously implanted false memory, outright perjury, and clownish circus performances that shamed his accusers and that finally elicited one of the finest elocutions in American political history when Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina had had enough of it:

Graham:… What you [Democrats] want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020. You’ve said that. Not me.

You [Kavanaugh have] got nothing to apologize for.… This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics, and if you really wanted to know the truth, you sure as hell wouldn’t have done what you’ve done to this guy. [Directing question to Kavanaugh] Are you a gang rapist?

Kavanaugh: No.

Graham:I cannot imagine what you and your family have gone through. Boy, you [Democrats] all want power. G-d, I hope you never get it. I hope the American people can see through this sham. [L]et me tell you, when it comes to this, you’re looking for a fair process, you came to the wrong town at the wrong time, my friend.…

… This is hell. This is going to destroy the ability of good people to come forward because of this crap. Your high school yearbook. You have interacted with professional women all your life,not one accusation. You’re supposed to be Bill Cosby when you’re a junior and senior in high school. And all of a sudden you got over it. It’s been my understanding that if you drug women and rape them for two years in high school, you probably don’t stop. Here’s my understanding. If you lived a good life, people would recognize it like the American Bar Association has the gold standard. “His integrity is absolutely unquestioned. He is the very circumspect in his personal conduct, harbors no biases or prejudices. Entirely ethical. Is a really decent person. Is warm, friendly, unassuming. He’s the nicest person.”…

To my Republican colleagues, if you vote no, you’re legitimizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics. [Glaring at the Democrats:] You want this seat? I hope you never get it. [Turning to Kavanaugh:] I hope you’re on the Supreme Court. That’s exactly where you should be. And I hope that the American people will see through this charade. And I wish you well. You well. And I intend to vote for you, and I hope everybody who’s fair minded will.

Justice Kavanaugh emerged bruised but unscathed, and bruises not only heal but disappear. After a hiatus from Catholic-baiting — or as judges and elementary-school teachers might say, after a short recess — the Catholic-haters returned in truest KKK Catholic-baiting fashion, Kamala Harris, vying for the Democrat presidential nod, joined forces with America’s one-hundredth-smartest United States Senator, the Hon. Mazie Hirono, to besiege Brian Buescher, President Trump’s nominee for a federal district judicial seat in Nebraska. Attacking him for his membership in the charitable 137-year-old Catholic fraternal order, Knights of Columbus, Hirono demanded:

The Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions. If confirmed, do you intend to end your membership with this organization to avoid any appearance of bias?

Harris then double-teamed onthe attack, prompting the nominee to respond that his activity in the Knights of Columbus has centered on “charitable and community events in local Catholic parishes.” He added: “I do not recall if I was aware whether the Knights of Columbus had taken a position on the abortion issue when I joined at the age of 18.”

The two-million-member Knights of Columbus fraternal order was founded in 1882 as a mutual-benefit society in great measure to combat Ku Klux Klan anti-Catholic xenophobia amplified by rising immigration from Ireland in the mid-19th century and later from Italy, Poland, and other predominantly Catholic countries in Europe. It was a time when Catholics were barred from many labor unions and other fraternal bodies. Such fraternal orders hardly are sinister. In much the same way and for much the same reasons, American Jewish immigrants from Germany during the Age of Metternich launched the B’nai B’rith fraternal order in 1843. Seven decades later, Tom Watson of Georgia helped incite the 1916 lynching of Leo Frank, a member of B’nai B’rith. A quarter century later, Adolf Hitler went after the charitable mutual-benefit Freemasons fraternal order. In all, between 80,000 and 200,000 Freemasons were murdered by the Nazis simply because they were members of the non-sectarian order.

We laughed when television comedy portrayed Alice Kramden and Trixie Norton going after their ridiculous husbands Ralph and Ed and their silly Royal Order of Raccoons. But it was no laughing matter when the three anti-Catholic bigots in the United States Senate went after Judge Barrett and the Knights of Columbus. Perhaps a warning should be directed to those amazingly brave kids in the Shriners hospitals and the Mummers in Philadelphia because they may be next.

Under the United States Constitution, Article VI, Clause 3:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.[Emphasis added.]

A great many prominent Catholics in American national public life today, like most Jews in that public arena, seem theologically lapsed, at best apathetic and at worst contemptuous of their religions. With the striking exception of former Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and former United States Attorney General Michael Mukasey, today’s Jews in Congress and in public office universally fail to observe the kosher dietary values that define a Jew, and they ignore the Sabbath observances that are at the core of Jewish existence. While Hillary Clinton never ceased telling that she would be the first female President, and while Obama’s campaigns emphasized that he would be the first Black President, tellingly Bernie Sanders is so utterly unconnected Jewishly that he (thankfully!) never regards that he would be the first Jew so chosen. Instead, Sanders has introduced virulently anti-Israel elements into the Democrat Party that had not existed before, regularly defends Jew-hating comments from Rep. Ilhan Omar, and he and Dianne Feinstein are the two consistently strongest and regular critics of Israel in the Senate. In similar fashion, the Catholics we Americans best know in Congress seem to be the Nancy Pelosis, Joe Bidens, Kennedy clan types, all of whose stands on issues ranging from abortion and guarding the lives of the unborn, to marriage rules, to birth control and Obamacare, to assisted suicide, and to so many other areas of devout Catholic faith seem rather incongruous with the teachings that are associated with core Catholic values. And New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo now leads the charge nationally for decriminalizing all abortion, removing the need to proffer any reason at all for aborting a fetus in its first 24 weeks of life, expanding the right to abort the fetus life even at the final moment of childbirth, and even decriminalizing the killing of fetuses as part of violent crimes of battery.

We are supposed to bar religious tests in this country. At this fascinating juncture in time, as it happens, six of the United States Supreme Court justices are Catholic, and it certainly seems that Sonia Sotomayor’s religion is very different from that of Justice Samuel Alito.

I am an Orthodox Jew, a practicing rabbi and law professor. As such, I believe that every word of the Torah is true and was placed by Moses before the Jews, by G-d’s dictated word transcribed by Moses’s hand. That does not conflict with my reality that I regularly have students whose politics differ from mine, whose approaches to sexual identity differ from my Weltanschauung, who have views different from mine on matters ranging from abortion to marriage to assisted suicide. So be it. There are clear professional demarcations that define my duties to my different professional constituencies, and I know where they are drawn. So it is for Orthodox Jews. So it is for Bible-believing Protestants, for Christians, for devout Catholics. We know what we believe, what we practice, and we know how and where to draw lines when they must be drawn between that which is of G-d and that which is of Caesar. We know that the time to kneel is at church or during the Yom Kippur Musaf Service — and not during the playing of our National Anthem that honors our country where in G-d we trust.

And so it is for a person of faith when selected to be a federal or state judge. An honest judge engages in the process of judging. An honest judge learns and studies the law, interprets the law as its codifiers originally intended, and applies it dispassionately as fairly as he or she can. Inasmuch as Democrats orient towards the kinds of Obama Judges who blithely set the law aside, superimpose instead their own gut feelings as to what they feel the law should be, and then go on scavenger hunts looking for prior-settled law to twist into the perfect shape needed to justify the gut ruling, the Kamala Harrises and Mazie Hironos and Dianne Feinsteins therefore wrongly imply that conservative judges of faith would do as they corruptly would do. However, the assumption is faulty. A conservative judge respects the law as codified and applies it as fairly as can be interpreted.

Then they came after Neomi Rao, President Trump’s nominee to fill the seat previously held on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals by Justice Kavanaugh. That court deals with federal regulatory appeals, and Rao is perfectly suited for the position because she has been head of the U.S. Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Previously, she had founded the Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason. She has degrees from Yale and the University of Chicago Law School, and she clerked in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, a Reagan appointee, and then in the U.S. Supreme Court for Justice Clarence Thomas. When in college some twenty years ago, Ms. Rao wrote that “[a] man who rapes a drunk girl should be prosecuted. At the same time, a good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober.” For that she was put to the Left-Liberal food-grinder by the likes of Cory Booker, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Vegan Spartacus gladiator, another Democrat candidate vying for President. In a remarkably outrageous, offensive, and somewhat dim-witted manner, reflecting incredibly poor preparation for questioning, Booker’s interrogation stumbled forward, as reported:

“Are gay relationships in your opinion immoral?” Booker asked.

“Um, senator, I’m not sure the relevance of that to —” Rao began.

“I think it’s relevant to your opinion if you think African-American relationships are immoral, do you think gay relationships are immoral?” Booker interjected.

“I do not,” she responded.

“Do you believe they are a sin?” Booker continued.

“Senator, my personal views on any of these subjects are things I would put to one side,” she replied.

“So you’re not saying here whether you believe it is sinful for two men to be married. You’re not willing to comment on that?” Booker asked.

“Senator, no,” she said.

“Excuse me?” Booker said. “I didn’t hear your response.”

“My answer is that these personal views are ones that I would put to one side, whatever my personal views are on this subject, I would faithfully follow the precedents of the Supreme Court,” she replied.

“Have you ever had an LGBTQ law clerk?” Booker then asked.

I have not been a judge so I don’t have any law clerks,” Rao responded.

I’m sorry, someone working for you?” Booker continued.

“Um, to be honest I don’t know the sexual orientation of my staff,” she said. “I take people as they come, irrespective of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation.” [Emphases added.]

Rao is neither Catholic nor Christian. Rather, the Yale and University of Chicago Law School grad’s ethnic heritage traces to her parents’ Parsi roots, stemming from the Zoroastrian Persian community who fled to India in the 7th century to avoid Muslim persecution. Both her parents were medical doctors, and they legally immigrated to Michigan in 1972 with their medical degrees and $16 to their names. Her academic career is stellar. And — go figure! — it is reported that she converted to Judaism when she married her husband, Alan Lefkowitz.

It began with the Catholics. In time came the onslaught against Nick Sandmann and his classmates at Covington Catholic High School. And then they started coming after the teachers of Christian school children. Karen Pence, married to the Vice President, accepted a teaching job at Immanuel Christian school in Springfield,Virginia, and the attacks began. It is a Christian school, so teachers affirm that they accept the Bible’s statement that marriage is between a man and a woman. In the words of Vice President Pence:

We have a rich tradition in America of Christian education and, frankly, religious education broadly defined. We celebrate it. The freedom of religion is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution prohibits a religious test for holding a public office, and so we’ll let the other critics roll off our back, but this criticism of Christian education in America should stop.

Speaking of his wife, he added that she “is many things: She’s a mother. She’s an advocate for military families.… She’s even an art teacher at a Christian school. And I couldn’t be more proud of our second lady, my wife, Karen Pence.”

Meanwhile, in Colorado, they now have disqualified Brendan Johnston from the state’s high-school wrestling championships. Johnston is a Christian teen boy who politely, as a matter of religious principle and personal conscience, refused to wrestle a girl. As he explained,“There is something that I really do find problematic about the idea of wrestling with a girl, and a part of that does come from my faith and my belief. And a part of that does come from how I was raised to treat women. I don’t think that I am looking at them as not equal. I am saying that they are women, and that is different than being men, because I do believe that men and women are different, and we are made differently. But I still believe that women are of equal value to men. I don’t think that seeing men and women as different… [opposes] the idea of equality.”

First they went after the Catholics. Then after the Christians. Then after the Indo-Asian Zoroastrians. And then after the kids. Yet in G-d we trust.

Dov Fischer
Dov Fischer
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Rabbi Dov Fischer, Esq., a high-stakes litigation attorney of more than twenty-five years and an adjunct professor of law of more than fifteen years, is rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California. His legal career has included serving as Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, clerking for the Hon. Danny J. Boggs in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and then litigating at three of America’s most prominent law firms: JonesDay, Akin Gump, and Baker & Hostetler. In his rabbinical career, Rabbi Fischer has served several terms on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America, is Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, has been Vice President of Zionist Organization of America, and has served on regional boards of the American Jewish Committee, B’nai Brith Hillel, and several others. His writings on contemporary political issues have appeared over the years in the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Jerusalem Post, National Review, American Greatness, The Weekly Standard, and in Jewish media in American and in Israel. A winner of an American Jurisprudence Award in Professional Legal Ethics, Rabbi Fischer also is the author of two books, including General Sharon’s War Against Time Magazine, which covered the Israeli General’s 1980s landmark libel suit.
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