A ranking public official in Massachusetts is coming under fire for grilling a judicial nominee about his Catholic faith.
Eileen Duff, a member of the Governor’s Council (a body that approves
the appointments of new judges), focused on religious issues in her
questions of James Gavin Reardon, Jr, who had been nominated for a seat
on the Massachusetts Superior Court.
Claiming that members of the US
Supreme Court have allowed their religious beliefs to influence their
decisions, Duff asked Reardon whether his faith would “interfere with
your judgment” on some issues.
When Reardon declined to discuss his
religious beliefs, Duff pressed him: “Are you Roman Catholic?”
The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts denounced Duff’s line of
questioning as “outrageous, unconscionable, unheard of, unlawful, and
The group’s executive director, C.J. Doyle, pointed
out that Article VI of the US Constitution explicitly prohibits any
religious test for public office, and both state and federal law ban
discrimination the basis of religion.
“If a private employer in the Bay
State examined an applicant about his religious faith, he would expose
himself to civil liabilities, enforcement proceedings before the
Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, and, potentially,
criminal penalties in a court of law,” Doyle remarked.
“The presumption behind the question by Duff is that Catholicism is
suspect, and Catholics cannot be trusted to impartially administer the
law,” Doyle continued.
He argued that since “Duff has, obviously, no
understanding, respect or sympathy for the constitutional protections
and religious freedom guarantees upon which this nation was founded, she
ought to resign from office, and stop poisoning the judicial nominating
process with her crude prejudices.”