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Sen. Sasse Introduces Resolution Making it Unconstitutional to Deny a Nominee Public Office for Membership in Knights of Columbus

Sen. Sasse Introduces Resolution Making it Unconstitutional to Deny a Nominee Public Office for Membership in Knights of Columbus

It is the sense of the Senate that disqualifying a nominee to federal office on the basis of membership in the Knights of Columbus violates the Constitution of the United States”

Wednesday, Sen. Ben Sasse introduced a resolution that reiterates the unconstitutionality of disqualifying a nominee for public service based on their membership to the Catholic organization, Knights of Columbus, according to a report by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

GOP Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska introduced a Senate resolution Wednesday providing that it is unconstitutional to disqualify a nominee from public office based on their membership in the Knights of Columbus.

The resolution, which The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained in advance of its introduction, comes after Democratic Sens. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Kamala Harris of California pressed a judicial nominee to the federal trial court in Nebraska about his affiliation with the knights, a Catholic mutual benefit society with almost 2 million members worldwide.

“It is the sense of the Senate that disqualifying a nominee to federal office on the basis of membership in the Knights of Columbus violates the Constitution of the United States,” the resolution reads.

Article VI of the Constitution forbids the imposition of a religious test on prospective officeholders.

Resolutions of this nature are generally offered to support non-controversial propositions and are adopted by the unanimous consent of the chamber. “Unanimous consent” means that the Senate endorses the resolution without a vote.

As such, Sasse’s resolution is tactically shrewd: Democratic support of the resolution essentially rebukes Harris and Hirono, while opposition to the resolution presents obvious political consequences.

A Wednesday Marist poll sponsored by the Knights of Columbus found that 85 percent of respondents — including 90 percent of Democrats — said religion should not be a factor when assessing someone’s fitness to serve in the federal government.

Last week, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) published an op-ed in The Hill lambasting, though not by name, those for “fomenting religious bigotry” by making an issue of judicial nominee Brian Buescher’s affiliation with the Knights of Columbus.

Two Senators in particular engaged in the horrendous line of questioning, Sen. Hirono (D-HI) and Sen. Harris (D-CA). Sen. Harris is expected to formally announce her presidential candidacy in the coming weeks.

Sen. Sasse publicly appreciated Re. Gabbard’s op-ed:


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


Sasse, a weightless jerk, is grandstanding. The two women, both morons, said stupid words. Where’s the surprise?

Do this for the KoC, then you have to do it for the Boy Scouts, then the NRA. This is nothing more than intrusive government, wearing the false rags of the right.

Sasse’s a complete buffoon and fraud. What he proposes is “shrewd” all right–but, alas, the evil he seeks to undo is already prohibited by the Constitution.

So what is this? Some kind of inverse double jeopardy?

    Bisley in reply to Titan28. | January 17, 2019 at 11:51 am

    Jeff Cooper once said something to the effect that law cannot be used to solve a problem that’s best dealt with by common sense. That’s surely the case here — if these people weren’t idiots, there would be no need of any law, and since they are idiots, it will have no effect on them.

The headline needs work. A senate resolution can’t make something unconstitutional. And this one doesn’t try. It merely expresses an opinion.

But in fact it isn’t unconstitutional for a senator to refuse her consent to a presidential nomination for a bad reason, such as the nominee’s race, sex, or religion. It goes against the spirit of the constitution, but not against the letter. It’s certainly something for which she should be condemned and shamed, but at the end of the day she is entitled to behave like that.

    Walker Evans in reply to Milhouse. | January 17, 2019 at 1:58 am

    She is indeed entitled to behave in a crass manner unbefitting her office. Her constituents are also entitled to chastise her at election time, if they do not agree with her bigotry.

      Milhouse in reply to Walker Evans. | January 17, 2019 at 8:08 am

      Unfortunately, there’s fat chance of that. In any case, you surely agree that it isn’t unconstitutional and no resolution can make it so.

Well, duh. “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

    Milhouse in reply to snopercod. | January 16, 2019 at 9:14 pm

    Yes, but that doesn’t constrain senators in their decision whether to consent to a presidential nomination, just as it doesn’t constrain voters in their decision whether to vote for a candidate for office. Morally, both voters and senators should feel so constrained, but legally they’re not.

      I don’t think that is quite accurate. Constitutional requirements are more than a mere moral constraint. It may not be enforceable in court but that is a different question as to whether or not it applies to the Senate.

        tom_swift in reply to AJR. | January 17, 2019 at 2:59 am

        The Constitution may limit what Congress can do (as in, “Congress shall make no law” etc) but says little about the antics of individual members.

        jlronning in reply to AJR. | January 19, 2019 at 11:08 am

        Milhouse is totally correct – nothing in the US Constitution or its centuries of interpretation constrains any representative’s reasons for his vote; the fact that there would be no legal recourse for anyone trying to deem a rep’s vote invalid because of its opinion/reason/fact basis is sufficient proof.

      David Lentz in reply to Milhouse. | January 17, 2019 at 7:54 am

      I suppose that one could argue that Senators Kamala and Hirono were using some of their allotted five minutes to engage in mere idle chit chat. Yet, I would presume the opposite. The fact that the Senator were asking a candidate for federal office about his religious beliefs, means the Senator were applying a religious testy for office.

      The good Senators have the right to vote as they see fit. Yet the Constitution forbids them from openly applying a religious test for office.

        Milhouse in reply to David Lentz. | January 17, 2019 at 8:22 am

        No, it does not. There’s no difference between openly and hiddenly; the religious test clause doesn’t apply. It doesn’t dictate anybody’s vote, nor does it dictate any decision. The president doesn’t have to nominate Moslems to office, if he doesn’t like. And if he does, senators don’t have to consent. And voters are entitled to vote against Moslem candidates. None of these are religious tests; they’re simply an individual’s prejudices and bigotry, to which he or she is entitled.

        A religious test is just what it sounds like; a qualification for office. The clause bans Congress from enacting such a test for any office, e.g. by requiring an oath that only a Christian could make. Some states at the time did have such tests; the USA could not. Even if Congress chose to establish a national church (which at the time it could do), it could not make membership of that church a prerequisite for any office.

          I appreciate your enthusiasm for Constitutional law but your analysis is, again, inaccurate; or perhaps too limited is a better characterization. Where by its terms is Article VI limited to the enactment of legislation? The confirmation process is clearly within its scope and I find it very doubtful the framers intended to include such a clause yet countenance blatant religious bigotry by the Senate in its advice and consent function. Granted there may be questions as to how to implement this clause in practice, but it cannot be the case that this clause has no application in the confirmation process.

          Milhouse in reply to Milhouse. | January 17, 2019 at 11:03 am

          That is the definition of a “religious test”, and of a “qualification for office”. The criteria used by voters choosing candidates, presidents making nominations, and senators granting or withholding their consent to such nominations, are not qualifications for office, and are not tests.

          Well you’re welcome to your view. Where you obtained such a definitive constitutional definition of “religious test” is a mystery to me but you must have some special sources. I guess I can take some solace in the fact that your are not in a position to apply this clause. At least I hope not.

          Milhouse in reply to Milhouse. | January 17, 2019 at 2:27 pm

          “Religious test” is not an obscure term. And “qualification for office” is even less obscure. These terms have definite well-known meanings, and you’re just ignoring them.

          The founders had experience with religious tests and oaths. Even some US states still had them. They wanted to make sure the new union didn’t. And this was before the first amendment; they weren’t worried about Congress establishing a national church, but they were worried that it would impose religious tests on the offices it created. That’s also why they wrote into the constitution the exact text of the oath or affirmation of office; it was to prevent Congress from imposing a different oath, which would exclude people not of the favored religion.

          Including myself, there are 100 senators that happen to disagree with you.

          Milhouse in reply to Milhouse. | January 17, 2019 at 7:51 pm

          You’re a senator?!

          just an inadvertent typo. But notwithstanding the obnoxiousness of your response, you’re still wrong and every US Senator, as evidenced by the passage of this resolution, has rejected your sophomoric arguments. Maybe you’ll mature more intellectually in when you graduate.

          Milhouse in reply to Milhouse. | January 17, 2019 at 10:14 pm

          100 senators did not vote for this. There was no count; nobody stood up to oppose it, so it passed automatically. But in any event, senators are not known either for their loyalty to the constitution or for their knowledge of it. They didn’t oppose this because it would have made them look bad, so they just let it pass. That doesn’t make it correct.

          I’d bet if you were to ask Sasse himself whether he really thinks it would be unconstitutional to vote against someone because you don’t like his religion, he’d admit that he doesn’t.

          As I said before, you’re welcome to your view, however incorrect it may be, but the sense of the body constitutionally charged with the advice and consent function is that you are mistaken.

Humphrey's Executor | January 16, 2019 at 8:27 pm

The young people coming up, and the older ones who pander to them, have zero respect for history. There’s a whole lot painful human experience baked into the Bill of Rights.

Shouldn’t K harris and mazie hirono resign for such bigotry? Seems to be the standard nowadays what with the white supremacy stuff and all.

The headline on this post is terrible. If anyone at Legal Insurrection is paying attention it should be corrected.

Romney Sasse:

“I’m as frustrated and saddened as you are about what’s happening to our country. But I cannot support Donald Trump….”

. . . while opposition to the resolution presents obvious political consequences.

Like what?

The D’rats can engage in any stupid antics they want, fully confident that the Useless Party’s reluctance to use its electoral dominance essentially guarantees that the D’rats will get their way no matter how many votes they don’t have.

I would like to encourage all conservatives to write to the President requesting he submit a written SOTU to Congress and hold a SOTU Rally at the border to speak directly to the American People.
Pelosi would like to establish the precedent that she controls Trump’s access to the public; she needs to be shown otherwise.

The Friendly Grizzly | January 16, 2019 at 9:39 pm

Isn’t this sort of thing covered under both freedom of association and the clause regarding no religious test for public office?

Sasse pants speaks! How about calling out most democrats for their unrelenting bigotry. Kudos to Tulsi, she may be the only democrat I can stomach listening to.

Sheesh. Sasse needs to go home and find something meaningful to do with his life.

Great Job Mr Sasse ,,, highlight the Bigotry & Hatred by demonRats. If it was a Diaper Head Muslim they would not have made a peep.

The bigotry against Catholics will just get covered-up with some other excuse for why they’re not voting for the candidate(s). Catholics who vote for the democrat party are nothing more than useful idiots.

Here’s what Harris and Hirono were doing—they were paving the ground to make it impossible to block a future Moslem candidate with Moslem Brotherhood/Hezbollah/Hibz ut Tahrir/ISIS/terrorist group ties, and Ben Sasse, perhaps inadvertently, helped them.

Remember, these two witches began by claiming Knights is Columbus, based on its name, is a terrorist group even though it does charitable work. Well, all those Moslem terrorist groups have a “charitable” arm. So, any future Moslem candidate belonging to one of those organizations can claim cover by talking about the “charitable” wing of the group—which restricts charity to Moslems only.

When Sasse comes up with a resolution stating the obvious, he’s paved the way for the rest. The resolution that applies to KoC alone is discriminatory, they will argue. It must also cover Islamic Jihad, MB, etc.

Insufficiently Sensitive | January 17, 2019 at 10:54 am

It is the sense of the Senate that disqualifying a nominee to federal office on the basis of membership in the Knights of Columbus violates the Constitution of the United States”

Sounds like the Senate don’t got no sense at all, if it think its opinion has any authority over what’s constitutional and what’s not. They’d better hurry and do another resolution declaring 2+2=4, since some other Congressional body has beaten them to the prize for pi=3.000000.

    since some other Congressional body has beaten them to the prize for pi=3.000000.

    No legislative body has ever done that. No, not even the Indiana house of reps. The bill that passed that body (but not the senate) in 1897 set four wildly inconsistent definitions of pi, but none of them was 3.