S. RES. 19; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 9
(Senate - January 16, 2019)

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[Pages S270-S271]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                               S. RES. 19

  Ms. HIRONO. Mr. President, S. Res. 19 is unnecessary because no 
religious test is being applied to nominees for Federal office. If my 
colleague, the junior Senator from Nebraska, wants to embrace the alt-
right's position by offering this resolution, that is his business.
  Rather than passing a resolution to address a problem that doesn't 
exist, we should focus on something real, like ending this totally 
unnecessary, unjustified shutdown that is harming millions of 
  I ask unanimous consent for, statements supporting the separation of 
church and state from Catholics for Choice, People for the American 
Way, and several Hawaii residents.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                         Catholics for Choice,

                                  Washington, DC, January 4, 2019.
     Hon. Mazie Hirono,
     U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senator Hirono: Catholics for Choice represents the 
     majority of Catholics across the United States that believes 
     that each woman should be free to follow her conscience in 
     moral matters regarding reproductive health.
       We were very disappointed to see your colleagues, Senators 
     Hirono and Harris, attacked for duly questioning district 
     court nominee Brian Buescher about his ability to keep 
     judicial impartiality due to his membership in the hardline 
     Catholic organization, Knights of Columbus. They had every 
     reason to raise these questions due to the Knights' troubling 
       Today's Knights of Columbus have strayed far from their 
     civic roots as a philanthropic organization. Our enclosed 
     report, The Knights of Columbus: Crusaders for 
     Discrimination, provides a detailed look at how they have 
     brazenly used their 501c8 status to pour money, effort and 
     influence into political contests and policy debates.
       As our investigation showed, they have spent more than $10 
     million since 2014 in direct antichoice and anti-LGBT 
     lobbying, like their petition in Albuquerque to try to ban 
     later abortion. The Knights' organization uses a large 
     portion of its time and effort funding ultrasound equipment 
     for fake health centers that actively deceive and pressure 
     women to keep unwanted pregnancies. The insurance arm of the 
     Knights ranks in the top one percent of the North American 
     insurance market, yet pays no federal and nearly no state or 
     local taxes. Make no mistake: they do not represent what the 
     majority of Catholics believe on issues of reproductive 
     health or the separation of church and state.
       We believe this and other attacks on Senators fulfilling 
     their obligations to question judicial nominees are just the 
     latest tactic in shifting the conversation about religious 
     liberty toward making special accommodations to those who 
     wish to refuse, impede and impose rather than to protect the 
     true religious liberty of all, no matter their beliefs. As 
     Religious Freedom Day nears--and we usher in a historic new 
     Congress that embodies our country's religious plurality--we 
     must remember that our society allows for free religious 
     exercise, but also protects against religious influence in 
       Catholics for Choice works at the intersection of religious 
     liberty, reproductive freedom and freedom of conscience for 
     all. We are at your and your staff's disposal as the 
     committee continues to protect fundamental freedoms through 
     its work. Should you have any questions, please contact me at 
     [email protected] or 202-986-6093.
                                                   Glenn Northern,
     Domestic Program Director.

               [From Honolulu Civil Beat, Jan. 14, 2019]

                          Letter to the Editor

              (By Lisa H. Gibson, Ray Markey, Maya Maxym)

       U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, is under 
       She stands for women, both as a champion of a woman's right 
     to choose and as a defender of those who have been sexually 
     assaulted; she fought Trump and the Republicans in defense of 
     the Affordable Care Act, against the Muslim ban and the 
     Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination. She is being attacked 
     because she has become one of the most eloquent and effective 
     voices of the values Indivisible Hawaii cherishes.
       The attack comes not only from rightwing ideologues, it now 
     comes from Hawaii's own member of the House of 
     Representatives, Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat who on Friday 
     announced her candidacy for the presidency. Her article in 
     The Hill accuses Democratic Party members of the Senate 
     Judiciary Committee of ``fomenting religious bigotry'' and 
     ``weaponizing religion'' during their questioning of nominee 
     Brian Buescher to the U.S. District Court in Nebraska.
       This thinly veiled attack on Sen. Hirono, who sits on the 
     Senate Judiciary Committee which is responsible for approving 
     judicial nominees, is a ludicrous assertion and a stunning 
     act of hypocrisy on the part of Rep. Gabbard. The assertion 
     is that Hirono is a religious bigot because of questions 
     designed to reveal a nominee's clear record of anti-choice 
     activism as a barrier to his appropriateness for a judicial 
       This attack is not only inaccurate, it exposes Gabbard's 
     self-serving attempt to project herself as a defender of 
     religious freedom--a position which is inconsistent with her 
     own actions. Rather than align herself with India's overt 
     right-wing Hindu Nationalists or Syria's Assad, we suggest 
     Rep. Gabbard follow Sen. Hirono as a model of both authentic 
     patriotic behavior and defense of civil rights.
       Members of Indivisible Hawaii and other groups have visited 
     Sen. Hirono's offices, as well as those of the other members 
     of Hawaii's Congressional delegation, dozens of times since 
     President Donald Trump's Jan. 20, 2017, inauguration. We know 
     firsthand that she has championed our beliefs because we have 
     talked with her and her staff many times. We have followed 
     her votes, watched her on television, read her Facebook Page 
     and emails, and attended her town halls.
       Sen. Hirono immigrated to Hawaii as a child and understands 
     from personal experience the challenges faced by immigrants. 
     She is the first Buddhist to serve in the Senate. Her years 
     of public service establish a record which, in particular, 
     show her to be a defender of religious tolerance as well as 
     the values of democratic government and the rule of law upon 
     which our country depends.
       We witnessed what Gabbard did at, during, and after the 
     Democratic Party Convention ion 2016 to attack not Trump or 
     the Republicans, but former Secretary of State Hillary 
     Clinton and the Democratic Party. Since Trump's election 
     Gabbard's silence in response to Trump's efforts to 
     dismantle the institutions of our democracy has been 
     deafening and stands in stark contrast to Sen. Hirono's 
     forthright, clear and courageous actions to fight the 
     racist, misogynist, and authoritarian actions of Trump and 
     the GOP. The Hill article mimics her past behavior--why 
     does she choose to do this again?
       As we fight to preserve our democracy unity is more 
     important than ever. An attack on Sen. Mazie Hirono as a 
     champion of progressive values in the Democratic Party is an 
     attack on all of us who want to take our country back. We 
     must stand with Sen. Hirono and other champions of democracy 
     to be successful.

[[Page S271]]

                             [Jan. 8, 2019]

People for the American Way: Conservatives' Dishonest use of `Religious 
    Bigotry' To Deflect Attention From Nominee's Disturbing Records

                    (By Rev. Leslie Watson Malachi)

       Happy New Year! Well, for most of us it should be--unless 
     you are fighting to protect our courts. New year, same old 
     tactic by conservatives, who are hoping to insulate narrow-
     minded judicial nominees from scrutiny by smearing people who 
     ask critical questions about their records and rhetoric.
       This dishonest ``religious bigotry'' strategy has been 
     around as long as the organized effort to shift the federal 
     judiciary to conservatism and reverse decades of precedent 
     that protect Americans' legal and constitutional rights. In 
     the recent past, for example, these groups have charged some 
     Catholic senators with wanting to keep Catholics off the 
     federal bench.
       The latest smear is being pushed by the notoriously right-
     wing editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, which has 
     run an attack on Senators Kamala Harris and Mazie Hirono. The 
     Journal's editorial is an over-the-top response to written 
     questions submitted by Sens. Harris and Hirono to federal 
     court nominee Brian Buescher about his commitment to 
     upholding legal equality for LGBTQ Americans and American 
     women's legal right to abortion.
       In their questions, the senators noted Buescher's long-time 
     membership in the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal 
     organization that does much laudable charitable work, but 
     which was also a top funder of anti-marriage-equality efforts 
     and supports restrictions on federal family-planning funds. 
     Before the 2016 election, the group's influential leader 
     declared that Catholics cannot vote for candidates who 
     support abortion rights.
       Given these facts, the senators asked Buescher whether he 
     could assure litigants that he would deal with these issues 
     fairly and impartially as a federal judge. (Buescher's answer 
     stated that while he had run for political office as a ``pro-
     life candidate,'' as a judge he would ``faithfully apply all 
     United States Supreme Court and Eighth Circuit Court of 
     Appeals precedent on all issues, including Roe v. Wade'' and 
       The Journal's editorial board responded to the senators' 
     reasonable line of questioning with outrage and horror. By 
     seeking to protect LGBTQ equality and reproductive rights, 
     and asking questions about the Knights' public policy 
     positions, the editorial implied, Sens. Harris and Hirono 
     were resurrecting the kind of anti-Catholic bigotry directed 
     at John F. Kennedy and earlier presidential candidate Al 
     Smith. The editorial said the questions were part of a 
     ``distressing pattern'' that seeks to ``banish'' religious 
     people from public life--the kind of false charge Religious 
     Right groups have often leveled to deflect criticism of their 
     political agendas or tactics.
       This is not only absurd, but an insult to American voters.
       The Journal also gave space to conservative African 
     American pastor Eugene Rivers to repeat the charge, saying 
     that the senators' questions were ``about silencing believers 
     of any kind whose views differ from the progressive view on 
     social issues.'' He unbelievably suggested that opponents of 
     Buescher's confirmation would be voting to deny his chance to 
     be a public servant based on his baptism in the Catholic 
       These inflammatory charges are designed to create 
     distraction. It is not only acceptable, but necessary for 
     senators to explore whether a nominee for a powerful lifetime 
     job as a federal judge will uphold every Americans' rights. 
     In the case of Buescher this is doubtful, given that as an 
     unsuccessful candidate for attorney general of Nebraska, he 
     said he did not believe LGBT Americans should be protected by 
     anti-discrimination laws the way people are protected from 
     racial or ethnic discrimination. It was also at this time 
     that he declared that he supported the ``complete reversal'' 
     of Roe v. Wade. Buescher has a long record as a partisan 
     ideological warrior, an additional reason cited by the 
     Leadership Conference on Civil Rights in opposing his 
       Religious freedom is a core constitutional principle, and 
     as the Constitution makes clear, there must be no religious 
     test for public office. We rely on the federal courts to 
     enforce all Americans' constitutional rights. That means 
     judges, regardless of their religious or personal beliefs, 
     must be counted on to uphold Americans' legal protections. 
     Subsequently, a person's political positions or legal 
     ideology grounded in their faith does not make those legal 
     and political stances off-limits to questioning or criticism.
       With Senate Republicans rubber-stamping even President 
     Trump's most extreme and unqualified nominees, right-wing 
     intimidation tactics must not prevent senators from 
     fulfilling their constitutional obligation to ensure that 
     lifetime federal judges are committed to protecting the 
     rights of all Americans.
       Thank you, Senators Harris and Hirono! It's a new year, and 
     it's time to retire this old dishonest tactic of silencing 
     and attempts to shame. Let the questions be asked and let 
     them be answered.

           [From the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Jan. 6, 2019]

                          Letter to the Editor

                           (By Gary Edwards)

       With regard to Donna L. Ching's letter (``Leave religion 
     out in vetting qualifications,'' Star-Advertiser, Dec. 27): 
     While I agree that a person's religious affiliation, alone, 
     should not be a means of exclusion for public office, I do 
     not agree that religion should be ``left out of the 
       One of the real concerns in vetting candidates for public 
     office is how they will apply their personal beliefs, 
     including their religion, to the role they seek to fill. And 
     while freedom of religion is a vital right, so is freedom 
     from religion.
       Significant damage can be done to our society by those who 
     would seek to impose their religious beliefs and values on 
     others through the force of law. These beliefs and values do 
     not always align with the principles of our Constitution, and 
     laws based on them would deny others their freedom and fair 
       I'm glad U.S. Sens. Mazie Hirono and Kamala Harris are 
     probing these issues.

             [From the Wall Street Journal, Jan. 15, 2019]

         Senators Were Right to Ask Those Questions on Religion

                          (By Michael Keegan)

       Regarding your editorial ``Kamala Harris's Dark Knights'' 
     (Jan. 3): Sens. Harris and Mazie Hirono's questions for Brian 
     Buescher were focused on appropriate and important questions, 
     namely whether the nominee could be counted on as a federal 
     judge to recognize and protect the legal equality of LGBTQ 
     Americans and the right of American women to have access to 
     safe and legal abortion.
       You charge that such questioning is about trying to 
     ``banish'' people from public life for their religious 
     beliefs and associations. In reality, protecting the legal 
     rights of all Americans of all faiths by ensuring that 
     nominees for powerful lifetime seats on America's federal 
     courts are committed to enforcing them is one of senators' 
     most important responsibilities, one that the current 
     Republican majority has abandoned in its rush to achieve 
     ideological domination of the courts.