Saturday, March 26, 2022
We can all well recall the infamous moment when Senator Dianne Feinstein scolded Amy Coney Barrett, then a nominee for a judgeship on the U.S. Court of Appeals, that "the dogma lives loudly within you."
Many of us took the opportunity to applaud a person's faithful commitment, and, indeed, I still have my own t-shirt that reads: "The Dogma Lives Loudly Within Me."
But we also more soberly recognized this as an expression of anti-Catholic bias and an improper attempt to invoke religiosity as a disqualification for judicial office.
It is just a wrong when it comes from another direction, trying to evaluate whether a person is religious enough for judicial office.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has proven herself to be a person of strong character and patient generosity, illustrating and saying that her faith has been a source of strength for her.
But that apparently was not enough for Senator Lindsey Graham who had the temerity to ask her: "On a scale of 1 to 10, how faithful would you say you are in terms of religion?" (Whether Graham meant the question or instead was posing a negative parallel to the Justice Barrett incident, the question remained way, way out of bounds.)
Judge Jackson answered appropriately in this way: "I am reluctant to talk about my faith in this way... I want to be mindful of the need for the public to have confidence in my ability to separate out my personal views."
I was thinking of the answer of Saint Joan of Arc to a similar hostile question and how apt it would have been here: "If I be not in a state of grace, I pray God place me in it; if I be in it, I pray God keep me so."