University President addresses religion, law
Observer Staff Report | Monday, September 11, 2017
University President Fr. John Jenkins addressed U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein in a letter Saturday, expressing his concern over a judicial confirmation hearing Sept. 6.
The hearing addressed the nomination of University law professor, Amy Coney Barrett, to the U.S. 7th Court of Appeals. During the hearing, Feinstein questioned Barrett about her religious beliefs and how they would affect her judicial rulings.
“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. The law is totally different,” Feinstein told Barrett, in a video from The Washington Post.
“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 when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country,” Feinstein said.
In his letter to Feinstein, Jenkins said he recognized Barrett’s credentials and expressed “deep concern at [her] line of questioning.”
“I am one in whose heart ‘dogma lives loudly,’ as it has for centuries in the lives of many Americans, some of whom have given their lives in service to this nation,” Jenkins said in the letter. “Indeed, it lived loudly in the hearts of those who founded our nation as one where citizens could practice their faith freely and without apology.”
Jenkins said Barrett has the ability to act impartially in accordance with the law.
“Professor Barrett has made it clear that she would ‘follow unflinchingly’ all legal precedent, and, in rare cases in which her conscience would not allow her to do so, she would recuse herself,” Jenkins said in the letter. “I can assure you that she is a person of integrity who acts in accord with the principles she articulates.”
It was disturbing to see Barrett’s capabilities questioned due to her faith, Jenkins said in the letter.
“It is chilling to hear from a United States Senator that this might now disqualify someone from service as a federal judge,” Jenkins said in the letter. “I ask you and your colleagues to respect those in whom “dogma lives loudly” — which is a condition we call faith. For the attempt to live such faith while one upholds the law should command respect, not evoke concern.”