The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is set to begin confirmation hearings on Monday for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Republicans remain upbeat about her eventual confirmation, as Democrats have pledged to use every possible procedural roadblock to derail her. Meanwhile, the mainstream media have focused on Barrett’s religious faith, painting her association with the ecumenical group, People of Praise, as problematic.

Barrett’s confirmation hearings will begin October 12 and last four days, according to Senate aides familiar with the process. Senators can either attend in person or participate remotely, as they’ve done in other hearings and in other committees since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

Three senators have recently tested positive for COVID-19: Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ron Johnson, R-Wis. Three others: Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and James Lankford, R-Okla., are self-quarantining due to contacts they’ve had with their colleagues who have tested positive. All but Johnson and Lankford sit on the Judiciary Committee.

There are 22 senators on the Judiciary Committee, and Republicans hold a 12-10 majority.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., in a statement to The Washington Post, criticized Chairman Graham’s intention to proceed with the hearings.

“Moving forward with the committee process when three senators have recently tested positive for covid-19 is irresponsible and dangerous, but doing so without requiring all members to be tested before a hearing in accordance with CDC best practices would be intentionally reckless,” Schumer said. “If Chairman Graham doesn’t require testing, it may make some wonder if he just doesn’t want to know the results.”

Even before those senators tested positive, Schumer was already on record as promising that he would use “every tool in the toolkit” to delay the Barrett nomination.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., responded to Schumer’s tactics on the Fox News “The Story with Martha McCallum” show. “We’ve been dealing with this since May,” he told the host. “All of a sudden, it’s become disabling? This is just another effort to try to delay the process on this outstanding Supreme Court nominee that the president has sent up to the Senate.”

One of the COVID-positive senators, Republican Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, said he will not miss voting on the Barrett confirmation, even if he has to wear a “moon suit” to protect his colleagues.

Meanwhile, media outlets such as The Washington Post and The Associated Press have written articles focusing on Barrett’s Catholic faith, and her participation in the ecumenical group, People of Praise. The Post’s headline uses “scare quotes” around the word “handmaid” to deliver its lurid message: “Amy Coney Barrett Served as ‘Handmaid’ in Christian Group People of Praise.”

The article explains that the word “handmaid” is a term for female leadership in the group and comes from the biblical reference to Mary’s reference to herself as “the handmaid of God” in the Book of Luke, chapter one, verse 48. From there, it devolves into a suggestive hit piece that highlights “accusations from some critics of Barrett that People of Praise is built on the sexist expectation that women defer to men.”

The AP article breathlessly labels People of Praise as a “secretive organization” in its story, which opens with, “As a young law student, Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett lived in a house owned by co-founders of People of Praise, a religious community that teaches that men are divinely ordained as the ‘heads’ of both family and faith.”

Not to be outdone, The Guardian made sure to use the phrase “subjugating women” in its opening paragraph about Judge Barrett and People of Praise.

USA Today also emphasized the group’s biblical view that men are supposed to be the spiritual head of their household, but made sure to find some anonymous sources who criticized the group as “hierarchical, authoritarian and controlling, where men dominate their wives, leaders dictate members’ life choices and those who leave are shunned.”

The so-called “secretive” People of Praise organization has its own website, that explains in-depth the group’s origins in 1971 and its desire to live in community as the early Christians modeled. 

“People of Praise is a charismatic Christian community,” it says on the Who We Are page. “We admire the first Christians who were led by the Holy Spirit to form a community. Those early believers put their lives and their possessions in common, and ‘there were no needy persons among them.’”

Scary stuff? Or basic Christian principles, founded in the Word of God?

None of the mainstream media articles address Judge Barrett’s success as a woman whose career has reached a professional pinnacle with her Supreme Court nomination. Nor do they mention her husband Jesse’s commitment and participation in helping raise their seven children, which she highlighted in her White House acceptance speech. And none of the news stories mention any judicial opinions from Barrett’s three years on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that in any way approves of the notion that women are to be “subjugated” to men.

These thinly disguised media criticisms of Barrett’s faith appear to be failing miserably. A Morning Consult poll released today, for example, shows 9% increased support overall for Barrett’s nomination since September 26, including a 10% increase just among Democrats.

Photo from REUTERS


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