Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas slammed Democrats and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker for displaying a “hostility to religious faith” Tuesday during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing vetting Neomi Rao for a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court.
Cruz’s condemnation came after Booker, a Democratic contender for president in 2020, questioned Rao on her view of homosexuality and LGBTQ Americans. Booker asked Rao if she considers gay relationships to be “immoral.”
The New Jersey senator attempted to clarify his point after Rao questioned the relevance of Booker’s line of questioning.
“I think it’s relevant if you think African American relationships are immoral,” Booker said. “Do you think gay relationships are immoral?”
“No, I do not,” Rao responded.
The exchange continued:
Booker: “Do you believe they are a sin?”
Rao: “Senator, my personal views on any of these subjects are things I would put to one side, and I would faithfully follow the precedent of the Supreme Court.”
Booker: “So you’re not willing to say here whether you believe it is sinful for two men to be married? You’re not willing to comment on that?”
Rao: “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 precedence of the Supreme Court.”
Booker ended his line of questioning by asking Rao if she had ever employed LGBTQ person on her staff, to which Rao revealed that she does not know.
“I take people as they come, irrespective of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation. I treat people as individuals. Those are the values I grew up with and those are the values I would apply if confirmed,” Rao said.
Cruz’s turn to question the nominee followed immediately after Booker’s. The Texas senator took the first minute of his time to remind the committee that hearings over judicial nominees should not be a “theatre for mischaracterizing or twisting nominees’ records or views, nor should it be an avenue for persecution.”
“We’ve seen a growing pattern among Senate Democrats of hostility to religious faith,” Cruz said. “I was deeply troubled a few minutes ago to hear questioning of a nominee asking your personal views of what is ‘sinful.’ In my view, that has no business in this committee.”
Cruz went on to reference Article 6 of the Constitution, which prohibits a religious test of any nominee to public office.
“We have also seen Senate Democrats attack what they’ve characterized as ‘religious dogma,’” Cruz said, likely referencing past committee hearings for Notre Dame Law School Professor Amy Coney Barrett. “We’ve seen Senate Democrats attack nominees for their own personal views on salvation.”
“I don’t believe this is a theological court of inquisition. I think the proper avenue for investigation of this committee is a nominee’s record,” Cruz concluded before going on to his line of questioning.
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