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Why GOP senators spoke at length about religion at the Barrett hearing

October 12, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

WASHINGTON, DC ??? OCTOBER 12: U.S. Sen. Joshua Hawley (R-MO) speaks during a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on October 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. Barrett was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who passed away in September. (Photo by Susan Walsh - Pool/Getty Images)

Listening to Republican Sen. Josh Hawley during one of the most heated moments of Monday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, a bystander might have thought Democrats had spent the day attacking Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Catholic faith.

(CNN)Listening to Republican Sen. Josh Hawley during one of the most heated moments of Monday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, a bystander might have thought Democrats had spent the day attacking Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Catholic faith.

Committee Democrats see Barrett's faith as a third rail, to be avoided at all costs, especially after missteps during her confirmation hearing for a federal appeals court three years ago.

And if Barrett is confirmed quickly, she will hear a major religious liberty case on November 4 brought by a Catholic foster agency that was denied a government contract because it refused to work with same-sex couples.

Hawley's complaints were rooted in an exchange in 2017, when Barrett appeared before the committee for her confirmation to the lower court.

Throughout the day, the focus on Democrats' part was largely the future of the Affordable Care Act, a case that will be heard by the Supreme Court -- and maybe Barrett -- a week after the election.

Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, agreed that religious liberty is "foundational to our civics and our republic. " He said his side of the dais would focus not on Barrett's faith, but on what's she written and what she has said.

"I just heard my colleague, Sen. Coons, make a reference to an old case, the Griswold case, which I can only assume is another hit at Judge Barrett's religious faith, referring to Catholic doctrinal beliefs," he said.

"I mean my focus today was on the concerns that I'm hearing from Delawarians, which was that there is a Supreme Court case a week after the election where the Affordable Care Act is at risk. "

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