Legal experts blast Lindsey Graham’s 'disingenuous' questions to Judge Jackson on religion

Legal experts blast Lindsey Graham’s 'disingenuous' questions to Judge Jackson on religion
Image via Screengrab / Twitter @mjs_DC

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tried to take revenge on Democrats for the 2017 Court of Appeals confirmation hearing questions asked of Amy Coney Barrett by asking wildly inappropriate questions of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Republicans have been furious for years because one Democratic Senator, Dianne Feinstein, expressed valid concern over Barrett’s ability to be impartial given her prior religious statements (see below).

“Thank you, Judge,” Graham began his inappropriate and highly-criticized line of questioning. “You have a wonderful family you should be proud and your faith matters to you. What faith are you by the way?”

Judge Jackson, clearly uncomfortable but trying to maintain composure, replied: “Senator, I am Protestant.”

“Okay,” Graham said, wanting more clarification.

“Nondenominational,” she added.

“Okay. Could you fairly judge a Catholic?” Graham asked, unfairly, and defending his question by saying, “I’m just asking this question because how important is your faith to you?”

“Senator personally, my faith is very important,” Judge Jackson answered. “But as you know, there’s no religious test in the Constitution under Article Six.”

“And there will be none with me ,” Graham claimed, after posing the religion questions.

“So on a scale of one to ten, how faithful would you say you are in terms of religion?” Graham continued inappropriately. “You know, I go to church probably three times a year so that speaks poorly of me. Or do you do attend church regularly?”

Judge Jackson was not about to succumb to Graham’s disregard for the Constitution and tried to put an end to the questions.

“Well, Senator, I am reluctant to talk about my faith in this way just because I want to be mindful of the need for the public to have confidence in my ability to separate out my personal views,” she said.

Later, Graham said: “Judge Barrett I thought was treated very, very poorly. So I just wanted to get that out. Let’s talk about family,” he added, continuing his inappropriate questions.

Here’s Slate’s legal expert Mark Joseph Stern with the video:

The Nation’s Justice correspondent Elie Mystal makes the critical point about why the questions were asked of Amy Coney Barrett:

“Lindsey Graham’s attempt to re-litigate Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings is disingenuous,” says attorney, former White House aide, and CNN commentator Keith Boykin. “Republicans always claim they believe in religious freedom, but that doesn’t apply to all faiths. If Ketanji Brown Jackson were a Muslim, they’d be having a different conversation.”

NBC News and MSNBC legal contributor Katie S. Phang:

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