Supreme Hypocrisy: Activists and Pundits Target Justice Barrett as “Religious Extremist”

Below is my column in the New York Post on the campaign to get Justice Amy Coney Barrett to recuse herself from 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis due to her religion.  The demand is entirely without merit but it is illustrative of the unrelenting and unhinged attacks on this distinguished jurist.  Previously, Democratic senators demanded Barrett’s recusal from pending cases on similarly frivolous grounds. Barrett remains the obsession for many on the left from campaigns to ban her books to protests at her home. She has done nothing to warrant such continual and personal attacks.

Here is the column:

Justice Amy Coney Barrett is facing increasing calls to recuse herself from a major Supreme Court case due to her religion. These absurd demands say less about the ethics of Barrett than the bias of her critics, who have waged an unrelenting and vicious campaign against the jurist and her family.

At issue is 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis’ Dec. 5 argument. Even before the court granted review, I noted it could be one of the most important free-speech cases in history. It involves a web designer who declines jobs for same-sex marriages over her religious beliefs.

Liberal academics and pundits have decried Barrett’s participation in the case because she has been part of the Christian group People of Praise, which holds traditional views of marriage and homosexuality. The media are quoting former members calling themselves “survivors” saying the group holds views that make it impossible for her to judge the case fairly.

Impossible, that is, if Barrett is willing to discard every principle of legal and judicial integrity she has maintained her entire career.

Justices routinely rule for individuals or groups that they find objectionable and even sinful. That is what jurists do when they take an oath requiring blind and equal justice.

While some have called for all the conservative justices to recuse themselves, the focus has been on Barrett. A petition with thousands of signatures declares, “Barett’s [sic] extremist religious views should have disqualified her from serving on the Supreme Court at all; but when it comes to this case in particular, it is obvious that she is far too biased to issue an impartial ruling and must recuse herself.”

Commentator Lindy Li objected, “Amy Coney Barrett refuses to recuse herself from an LGBT case, despite being paid 5 times by the anti-LGBT group involved,” referring to the legal nonprofit representing the petitioner. “Ketanji Brown Jackson recused herself from a Harvard case cuz she sits on its Board of Overseers. Barrett is a religious extremist, Jackson is a true Justice.”

The problem is that it’s called “the Harvard case” because Harvard is an actual party to the case, and the court is reviewing admission policies including the period on which Jackson sat on the board.

The reference to the Harvard case is also telling because many liberal academics and commentators insisted Jackson did not have to recuse herself despite what some of us saw as an obvious conflict of interest: She sat on a board that advises on admissions and oversees the Harvard’s operations. To her credit, Jackson recused herself.

This is different. Neither Barrett nor People of Praise has a connection to the case. Indeed, this is not even a religion-clause case. When the case came up from the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, challengers raised claims under both the First Amendment’s religion and free-speech clauses. As some of us had hoped, the court accepted only the free-speech claim for review.

Notably, those comparing Barrett with Jackson ignore that the latter has similar religious connections in her background. Jackson sat on the Montrose Christian School board in Rockville, Md. The school proclaimed “uncompromisingly” the gift of gender is part of the goodness of God’s creation,” Christians must oppose “all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography,” marriage is the “uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment” and Christians should “speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death.”

Yet those same individuals aren’t calling for Jackson’s recusal (which would be equally absurd). Indeed, the board position was a nonissue at Jackson’s confirmation.

The double standard is nothing new for Barrett and her family, who have faced repeated protests at their home, including demonstrations that must upset her young children. Protesters have distributed information on where her kids attend school. And many on the left want to block Barrett from giving her views publicly: Writers and editors are seeking to ban books by the jurist.

Some of the vilest abuse came in her confirmation as Democratic members and activists focused on her religion. Even her multiracial family was not spared offensive and racist attacks. Ibram X. Kendi, the director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, accused Barrett of acting like a “white colonizer” in adopting two Haitian children and suggested the kids were little more than props for their ambitious mother.

The media have reacted to these racist attacks, the calls for banning her book and the doxxing of her children with little more than a shrug when the target is a conservative jurist. After all, they insist, she is the extremist.

No, Justice Barrett will not recuse herself, and the Supreme Court is all the stronger for it.

Jonathan Turley is an attorney and professor at George Washington University Law School.

69 thoughts on “Supreme Hypocrisy: Activists and Pundits Target Justice Barrett as “Religious Extremist””

  1. There are regularly cases before the Supreme Court that involve religion. Hypothetically, if one barred all Christians, Muslims, and Jews from serving on the Court, so as to remove religious bias, allowing only atheists, then by the same logic, that would introduce bias against religion.

    This is why conservatives typically supportConstitutional Origionalism. One is supposed to disregard one’s personal motives and desired outcomes, applying laws as they are written. This leaves it to the legislative branch to “fix”, repeal, or make new laws. Ideally, it should not matter if someone is a communist, socialist, capitalist, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Democrat, or Republican. Apply the law as written, and theoretically, all should come to similar conclusions.

    The trouble is when people in positions of power abuse their authority to pursue political goals. Examples include legislating from the bench to create new rights or laws that were never even obliquely referenced in the Constitution, the IRS persecution of conservatives, California’s non elected CARB declaring no medium to heavy duty vehicle older than 2010 may be registered in the state (which means haulers had to shell out over $100,000 for new vehicles), the politicization of the FBI, DOJ, teachers unions, etc.

    1. Karen S: you don’t understand “Constitutional Origionalism”[sic], because this is something you picked up from Fox to defend Alito, Barrett, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh disregarding 50 years of binding precedent and refusing to follow the doctrine of stare decisis after lying about this during their confirmation hearings. You are just parroting what you heard on Fox about judges “legislating from the bench”. The IRS doesn’t “persecute” “conservatives”, and the FBI, DOJ and teachers’ unions aren’t politicized, either. Roe was the law of the land until radical right-wingers got 4 of them onto the bench, 3 of whom were nominated by an illegitimate POTUS who cheated to get into office, their nominations allowed by McConnell who denied Obama (legitimately elected) his choice of SCOTUS pick to replace Scalia. These are facts, not opinions, and you want to complain about “people in positions of power abus(ing) their authority to pursue political goals”?

      1. You need to bone up on your “facts”. Nothing in the Constitution obligates or requires the Senate to act on a USSC nomination. It says Advise and Consent, not MUST Advise and Consent.

        It’s the Senate’s prerogative to decide where to act or not.

      2. Lengthy post gigi, but you never got to the part about explaining what Constitutional originalism actual means. Try to stay on topic instead of going off on wild, incoherent tangents.

  2. The democrats are always trying to stack or unstack the deck according to the outcome they need.

  3. “The media have reacted to these racist attacks, the calls for banning her book and the doxxing of her children with little more than a shrug when the target is a conservative jurist. After all, they insist, she is the extremist.”
    In dealing with hypocrites like these, the proper response is ridicule not reason. The Reason Train left them eons ago. Now they respond only to word flogging — our more effective and honest real flogging having been relegated to history’s junk yard. Call them what they are: Children with blinders on and unqualified to comment on anything beyond the latest woke Disney (Wokeney?) megaflop. “Strange World” for these creeps, indeed. Thankfully, we don’t have to live in it but sadly, ACB does.

    Speaking of judges: years ago, a lawyer friend of mine called me into a near deserted courtroom to watch a mundane motion for continuance (postponement). I wondered why until I saw the judge and the desperate defense lawyer pleading his case. Seems the judge — before he ascended the bench — had a run-in with the same lawyer while he was practicing law about 15 years before. Then, the defense lawyer had the upper hand and the judge-in-waiting needed a continuance because a witness he needed at trial had just gone into labor. He didn’t get it and lost both the case and a client in the process. Following the win, the defense lawyer smugly commented that he was “Sorry, but that just happens sometimes.”

    Now all these years later and with the judge in the driver’s seat, his ancient rival had the desperate need and a “just” decision had to be reached. If you guessed the postponement wasn’t granted you’d be right and there were many adequate grounds for such denial but the point of the story was the dialog between my fellow practictioner who shanghaied me in the hallway and the judge who once was his law partner. The dejected defense lawyer quickly packed up his bag and left the courtroom having to report the loss to his client. My friend then approached the bench in the now deserted — except for us — courtroom and asked the judge if he remembered that lawyer and the altercation years before. The judge responded perfectly: “No, but sorry, that just happens sometimes.”

    Judges have long memories.

  4. Professor Turley, your chivalry is showing. (And I like it). And you’re right. And, just so we’re clear, it’s not “both sides” that are doing this. It’s just one side. You know which side.

  5. Professor Turley,

    In your post, you did not name or link to a single “legal expert” that is calling for her recusal. In fact, the article you linked to said “legal experts” are saying that recusal is not likely because there is no conflict.

    Why then is this a story? Are you just trying to fuel the “age of rage”?

    Of course, her membership in an anti-LGBTQ organization is not enough. Justice Black was a member of the KKK and still was able to opine on civil rights cases.

    1. Anonymous, you say that no legal expert on the left has called for Justice Barrett’s recusal. You could have let your fingers do the walking before you made your proclamation but you didn’t. There is a lawyer who is considered an expert by the left who has called for her recusal. Here he is. Is this a good enough “legal expert” for you. A retraction of your statement would be appreciated. The word retraction is in the dictionary. It’s as easy to find as Laurence Tribe on Google.

  6. Having grown up in a free country, the hate coming from the left is difficult to wrap my head around. I don’t know what to say about this except that I hope she holds her ground. This is unprecedented in America. It is unprecedented in the modern West. Hillary, the Obamas, Gen Z, and Soros can go to hell. Free people are going to fight to remain free, period. At this point I pray we don’t have another *world* war over all of this.

  7. In time everyone, even those now among them, will come to realize that the activists, their pundits, and their politicians are the extremists. Their attacks on qualities distinctive to an individual and/or fellowships of individuals shall eventually lose their appeal. It will not be, however, before we will yet have to endure the last of what will remain of their antipathy for liberty, equality, and fraternity.

  8. So, we should require Ms. Kagan to recuse herself from any suit dealing with Israel or Judaism or Ms soto mayor from anything hispanic? Does the insane prog/left see where this will lead? I am constantly bewildered by the blatant hubris and willful ignorance of the left.

  9. “Protesters have distributed information on where her kids attend school.”

    Geez. Leave the kids alone! Stop messing with the kids!

  10. I have read at least 2 comments suggesting we are trying to set up a religious theocracy in the US. Really? That is about as looney as the moniker Loolie. Which theocracy would you have. A Muslim one or a catholic one, or a southern Baptist one, or a regular baptist one, or a Jewish one (reformed, orthodox, or other) liberal or conservative Methodists, Anglicans, Lutherans, Satanist, agnostics, or atheists (they do preach a lot about being non-religious)etc., etc. There are so many religions that none could ever come together to put together a theocracy that they would all support.
    Loolie seems to think that 6 of the justices are out of step with the rest of the country (according to who). I would suggest it depends on the issue before the court. Loolie needs to expand his poll to more than his 2 friends and one passerby.

    1. GEB,
      I see this occasionally across the interwebs, “They are trying to install a theocracy in our government!”
      Is there a part of the country that is religious?
      Of course there is.
      Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Mormons etc.
      Are there Catholics too?
      You bet ya!
      Are any of them anywhere near establishing a one religion government?

      Locally we have seen two churches close.
      One is now a LDS.
      The other is a State Farm.

  11. What exactly are “extremist” religious views? Prior to about 350 AD the Roman Emperors persecuted Chrisitanity as “extreme”. Early religion-inspired abolitionists were “extremists”. When it arose, Protestantism was persecuted as “extreme” by the Catholic Church and then Catholicism was persecuted by regnant Protestants. The word seems to be meaningless, except as excuse to censor or kill someone. Or, if it means that a religious figure has only a small following ( a “cult”), then Jesus would have qualitified.

    1. Or, if it means that a religious figure has only a small following ( a “cult”), then Jesus would have qualitified.

      Jesus had 12 fools as Apostles, all of whom betrayed Him. Yet, look at their return on investment.

      Imagine if 33% of all Americans followed in the footsteps of St Peter and St Paul. Imagine how the world would be set on fire. Now imagine people unplugging from the internet, from social media, wifi, opting instead on a path of interacting with people face to face, mano a mano, breaking bread with neighbors, coworkers, immigrants, those on the margins, and reaching out to single parents, fatherless children, uneducated children, the sick, the poor, while growing one’s nuclear / extended family and reversing the falling birth rate. Justice Amy C. Barrett is doing just that.

      This is the first week of Advent. “—if we have fallen into a spiritual sleep—now is the time to wake up and stay awake, to get our lives in order, to stop making excuses.”
      – Bishop Robert Barron

  12. Where were these “recuse yourself” advocates, when Katie Hobbs, now Gov. of Arizona, failed to recuse herself as Secy. of State, in charge of elections, while running for Governor? The double standards by the left is as idiotic as it is destructive.

    1. Brian Kemp (R -GA) became governor also while overseeing his election as Sec of State in 2018.

      1. Georgia did not botch the election big time as Hobbs did.

        Regardless Kemp should have resigned or recused.

  13. I suspect Justice Barrett is far tougher and far more resilient than any of the social media orcs coming for her in wave after wave with ever more exotic and preposterous claims. They are the lost souls you wouldn’t allow in your house, in your car, or anywhere near your children. One day this too shall pass.

    1. I would say so. She is the model woman, wife, mother, and supreme court justice. Some people can have it all, with a commitment, investment, in moderation, over time.

  14. These people are absurd. Their claims are a waste of any energy or brainpower since the claims are so senseless and require no brain power.

    However all Progressives who have adopted their politics as religion must immediately recuse themselves. They’ve worshipped at the alter of politics, as illustrated by :
    1) Kneeling with Pope Pelosi in the Capitol Bldg with their vestments in adornment
    2) Trying to cast out, cancel, or burn those they declare as infidels to their political leftism
    3) Marching with signs of their religious affiliation and rioting to ensure their religion is followed (or be destroyed)
    4) Placing their religious icons such as signs that declare what the “believe” in their front lawns for adoration
    5) Wearing religious ornaments such as p—y hats, masks to publicly declare their religion
    6) Using their car stickers to proclaim their religious affiliation

    Then their Supreme Leader Biden can recuse himself as well … though based on his lack of mental acuity, it’s clear he already has been recused.

  15. The problem isn’t that there is one jurist on the Supreme Court who are trying to turn this country into a religious theocracy. The problem is that there are six such jurists right now; which is far out of step with the majority of the country.

    1. Loolie, care to take a vote on that to see who is out of step with the country?

      Loolie, would you require Streisand to sing at a Trump inaugural ball? If not then how can you mandate a cake maker has to design a specific cake? Why force a web designer to create things he is against? Can you force a Muslim caterer to cater a Bar Mitzvah? Can you force a Muslim Cleric to perform at a gay wedding?

      Whenever a lefty loon, like Loolie, uses Christian just insert the word Muslim in it’s place and she them squirm.

    2. It seems dubious but I’ll concede that conservatives are trying to turn the country into a religious theocracy. If that were to happen I will further concede that it would be dreadful. It would be dreadful to be subject to a government that assumes authoritarian power to enforce an irrational and demonstrably false doctrine.

      But what should we make of the left? It has several of its own authoritarian, irrational and comically false doctrines and tirelessly works to impose them on all of us. To wit: Marx, Keynes and Ehrlich et al.

      One can only conclude that authoritarian governments are only bad when the wrong guy is running things.

      BAKE THE DAMN CAKE or go to jail.

      1. Loonie is not expressing a legitimate opinion. Loonie is intentionally representing something as a fact that is not true.

        That makes Loonie a liar. And you know Loonie is a liar.

        By playing along and conceding a point that you KNOW is a lie, you give it unearned legitimacy. That’s wrong.

      2. I am mostly conservative.
        I am not religious.
        With the exception of one neighbor, out here in rural America, no one is pushing their religion on anyone.

        Anyone tries to force their religion (to include wokeism) on me they are going to get a fight.

    3. Yes, human rites performed for social, redistributive, clinical, political, and fair weather causes is a religious practice established under The Constitution. Slavery, diversity (i.e. color judgment, class-based bigotry), and political congruence (“=”), too.

    4. Not killing babies is not the creation of a religious thocracy, unlike allowing them to be killed at will appears to be.

    5. Shocking that some people think that laws should be made by popular opinion, especially people that have a problem with some Catholics.

      But, I suppose if you think you can fool the people, and you have proof of that, maybe they get out over their skis at times…

    6. The problem is that there are six such jurists right now; which is far out of step with the majority of the country.

      Claims a person (bot?) that has no understanding of the path taken by Justices to the Supreme Court. They have a known history of writings,speeches and judicial rulings. they have been selected by representative of the people, and affirmed by representatives of the People.

      Much of all that process, has little to do with the justice, as they hear and rule on the cases before the court. Their decisions are driven by the written law and how that interacts with the Constitution. Public opinion, is by design, removed from any influence on the work of the Justices.

    7. The first amendment bars the government from establishing a state religion. It explicitly provides for the unrestricted practice of your religion.

      There is no promise of freedom from religion – there is no such thing anyway.

      Humans are inherently religious – it is our nature – those people who claim not to be religious are often zealots of the highest order – they just have a different God, The modern left is possibly the most ferverent religious movement in US histroy.

    8. ” turn this country into a religious theocracy. “

      Those justices you whine about do not place religion ahead of the Constitution. Instead you should worry about the socialist left which inevitably subjugates the population.

  16. If the new Twitter would set a new standard by printing the full name, employment position if any, party affiliation, and how they can be reached of each of these so-called ‘activists’ and ‘pundits’ who are stealing the headlines with their ‘calls’ for Barrett’s recusal — it’s time for those folks to get a taste of what it’s like to be inundated by those who think they’re nuts —-
    When some of those most active activists start financially and/or socially ‘hurting,’ they might pull in their horns and rethink their activism —

    Who knows?

  17. Does the shoe fit on the other foot? That is a question that the activists on the Left and their followers have a very difficult time answering if they dare address it all.

  18. Democrats appear to think the prohibition of government not mandating a religion, means the government should mandate NO Religion!
    Basically the OPPOSITE!

    Of course Fascists hate religion! .

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