Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas bashed the idea of “religious tests” for judges in a recent public appearance, saying that he does not believe that faith interferes with the duties of a judge and that he “thought we got away” from imposing religious tests on judicial nominees, the Daily Caller reported Wednesday.
While speaking at Pepperdine University in California, Thomas — who was confirmed under former President George H.W. Bush in 1991 — expressed to the audience that he does not think that religion affects how judges perform their duties and that he does not “know” any judges that do so.
“I thought we got away from religious tests. I don’t think I know a single judge that had allowed religion to interfere with their jobs.”
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The Supreme Court Justice went on to talk about his conversations with the late Justice Antonin Scalia regarding the relationship between practicing faith and their oath to “interpret” and uphold the law.
“[Scalia] felt the way I did: that it would be a violation of his oath to somehow allow his faith to displace the law. Because we took an oath to enforce the law and interpret it impartially. And he took it very seriously.”
“Just as an aside,” Thomas added. “I think it’s really interesting that people in a profession where we all take an oath, that they would look at people who have strong faith as somehow not good people when, if you’re an atheist, what does an oath mean?”
Thomas’ response was to a question posed about a comment that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) made about Judge Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation hearing in 2017, where Feinstein said that it was a “concern” that religious “dogma live[d] loudly within” Barrett.
Other Democrats in the Senate in recent years have also asked faith-based questions to judicial nominees, such as Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) who pressed Judge Naomi Rao on whether she thought same-sex marriages were sinful while being asked about her views on the case Lawrence v. Texas.