It was right out of the 19th century. A Catholic nominee for the federal bench is questioned about her Catholicity by two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. This is exactly what the nativists did—they argued that Catholics professed allegiance to Rome, and were thus un-American.

Welcome to America in 2017. Senator Dick Durbin and Senator Dianne Feinstein were not content to question the bona fides of Amy Coney Barrett, a professor at Notre Dame Law School; she was nominated to serve on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. No, they had to get into the dirt by implying that her dedication to the Catholic faith might compromise her judicial thinking.

Bill Donohue wrote a stinging letter to both Durbin and Feinstein as soon as the story broke and made media headlines about his response. He pointed out something that virtually every news story on this issue missed: both Democrats voiced the same line of bigoted reasoning in 2005; the victim that time was Judge John Roberts, who was being considered for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Donohue told Raymond Arroyo on his EWTN show, “The World Over,” that this was no coincidence. If Durbin and Feinstein smeared a high court nominee 12 years earlier—implying he exercised “dual loyalties”—then it was clear that both have anti-Catholic bigots working for them.

Durbin and Feinstein were guided in both instances by the Alliance for Justice. It is an umbrella group, funded by billionaire atheist George Soros, that represents scores of organizations dedicated to promoting a left-wing judiciary.

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, who is the bishops’ point man on religious liberty, issued a statement on this issue. “People of faith—whatever faith they may hold—should not be disqualified because of that faith from serving the public good.”

Father John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, defended professor Barrett, taking sharp aim at Feinstein’s remark that the nominee’s “dogma lives loudly” within her. “I am one in whose heart ‘dogma lives loudly,'” he said.

Princeton University president Christopher Eisgruber sent a note to Feinstein saying, “Because religious belief is constitutionally irrelevant to the qualifications for a federal judgeship, the Senate should not interrogate any nominee about those beliefs.”

There were some other senators who made comments that smacked of anti-Catholic bigotry, but none matched Feinstein’s line of attack. Durbin’s remark—he questioned whether there was room for an “orthodox Catholic” on the bench—was more veiled, but just as bigoted.

It is hoped that Durbin and Feinstein got the message. They are a disgrace.

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