Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) wrote a scathing op-ed, which was published in The Hill Tuesday, in which she lambasted lawmakers who questioned US district judicial nominee Brian Buescher about his affiliation with the Catholic organization, Knights of Columbus.

While Rep. Gabbard never mentioned Sen. Hirono by name, the only two Senators to have made an issue of Buescher’s participation in the Knights of Columbus were Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

From Rep. Gabbard’s op-ed:

We must stand together, and with one voice condemn those who seek to incite bigotry based on religion. We cannot allow those who are anxious to exploit our differences to drive a wedge between us. We cannot and will not tolerate prejudicial treatment of those with whom we disagree, any more than we would tolerate such treatment of those with whom we agree.

…While I oppose the nomination of Brian Buescher to the U.S. District Court in Nebraska, I stand strongly against those who are fomenting religious bigotry, citing as disqualifiers Buescher’s Catholicism and his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus. If Buescher is “unqualified” because of his Catholicism and affiliation with the Knights of Columbus, then President John F. Kennedy, and the ‘liberal lion of the Senate’ Ted Kennedy would have been “unqualified” for the same reasons.
Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution clearly states that there “shall be no religious test” for any seeking to serve in public office.

No American should be told that his or her public service is unwelcome because “the dogma lives loudly within you” as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said to Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation hearings in 2017 to serve as U.S. Circuit Court judge in the 7th Circuit.

While I absolutely believe in the separation of church and state as a necessity to the health of our nation, no American should be asked to renounce his or her faith or membership in a faith-based, service organization in order to hold public office.

The party that worked so hard to convince people that Catholics and Knights of Columbus like Al Smith and John F. Kennedy could be both good Catholics and good public servants shows an alarming disregard of its own history in making such attacks today.

We must call this out for what it is – religious bigotry. This is true not just when such prejudice is anti-Catholic, but also when it is anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-Hindu, or anti-Protestant, or any other religion.

According to Hawaii News Now, the public flame war is highly unusual among the state’s federal delegation. Sen. Hirono’s office issued the following statement in response to Rep. Gabbard’s op-ed:

“Senator Hirono, asks all judicial nominees – particularly those who have expressed very strong personal ideological views in conflict with Supreme Court precedent – if they can be fair. She asked Mr. Buescher, who has a clear record of anti-choice activism, whether he could separate his personal beliefs from decisions he would make if confirmed for a lifetime appointment on the federal bench. Over the past two years, the Senator has been attacked by right wing ideologues for her examination of Donald Trump’s ideologically-driven nominees to the courts. It is unfortunate that Congresswoman Gabbard based her misguided opinion on the far-right wing manipulation of these straightforward questions.” – Will Dempster, spokesperson for Sen. Hirono

And Rep. Gabbard’s spokeswoman sent HNN the following statement:

“Our freedom of religion is enshrined in our Constitution and in our Bill of Rights, which so many brave Americans across generations have put their lives on the line to protect. No nominee for public service should be disqualified, either directly or indirectly because of their religion or religious affiliation. While Rep. Gabbard opposes this nomination, it has no basis in any religious litmus test. She will always fight for religious freedom and oppose religious bigotry — no matter where it comes from.” – Lauren McIlvaine, spokeswoman for Rep. Gabbard

Rep. Gabbard’s father is a member of the Knights of Columbus.

We covered the bizarre questioning of Buescher here:

Two Dem Senators question judicial nominee’s membership in … Knights of Columbus

 
 
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