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World News

US Supreme Court hopeful: 'I believe in the power of prayer'

by Will Maule

Judge Amy Coney Barrett has spoken openly about her views towards prayer as she embarks on the confirmation process to become the latest Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Barrett, who is currently participating in her Supreme Court confirmation hearings before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, said in her opening statement that she greatly appreciates the prayers of her supporters and was "honoured and humbled" to be nominated to the lofty position.

"I would like to thank the many Americans from all walks of life who have reached out with messages of support over the course of my nomination," she said. "I believe in the power of prayer, and it has been uplifting to hear that so many people are praying for me." 

Judge Barrett has been the subject of intense media scrutiny as it relates to her Christian faith and membership of a little-known charismatic Catholic group called 'People of Praise'. During Monday's hearing session, a number of Republican senators decried both the media and Democrat members of the committee for imposing what they called a "religious test" on the nominee. 

"This committee isn't in the business of deciding whether the 'dogma lives too loudly' within someone," said Senator Ben Sasse, referring to a controversial remark made during Judge Barrett's 2017 confirmation hearing to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, during which ranking member Senator Dianne Feinstein suggested that Barrett's Christian faith might adversely affect her functioning as a fairly-minded judge. "The dogma lives loudly in you," Feinstein told Barrett at the time.

Sasse continued: "This committee isn't in the business of deciding which religious beliefs are good and which religious beliefs are bad and which are religious beliefs are weird. I just want to say as someone who is self-consciously a Christian, we've got a whole bunch more really weird beliefs; forgiveness of sins, the virgin birth, resurrection from the dead, eternal life...they're a whole bunch of really, really crazy ideas that are a lot weirder than some Catholic moms giving each other advice about parenting.

"And yet, there are places where this committee has acted like it's their job to delve into people's religious communities. That's nuts. That's a violation of our basic civics."

Senator Josh Hawley added: "When you tell somebody that they're too Catholic to be on the bench, when you tell them they're going to be a Catholic judge, not an American judge, that's bigotry.

"The pattern and practice of bigotry from members of this committee must be stopped, and I would expect that it be renounced."

Senator John Cornyn added simply that "there is no religious test to being on the Supreme Court". 

Democrats on the committee expressed concern about the expediency of the nomination in light of the upcoming presidential election, with Senator Amy Klobuchar calling the process a "sham".

Klobuchar said that there must be a "precedent that the President, in an election year, should wait" until after the election vote to nominate a new justice to the Supreme Court.

"We should have an election; the people choose the president, and the president chooses the nominee," Klobucar added.

"This isn't Donald Trump's country, it is yours," she concluded. "This shouldn't be Donald Trump's judge, it should be yours."

Elsewhere in her opening statement, Judge Barrett paid tribute to the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg - the long-serving Supreme Court Justice whom Barrett is set to replace.

"When I was 21 years old and just beginning my career, Ruth Bader Ginsburg sat in this seat. She told the Committee, "What has become of me could only happen in America." I have been nominated to fill Justice Ginsburg's seat, but no one will ever take her place," Barrett said. "I will be forever grateful for the path she marked and the life she led." 

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