Senators question judiciary nominee over membership in ‘extreme’ Knights of Columbus

Senators question judiciary nominee over membership in ‘extreme’ Knights of Columbus December 22, 2018

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Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have questioned a candidate for the federal bench over his membership of the Knights of Columbus, with some calling the group’s Catholic views on abortion and same-sex marriage “extreme.” Senators also questioned if belonging to the Catholic charitable organization could prevent judges from hearing cases “fairly and impartially.”

Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) raised membership of the Knights as a point of concern during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s consideration of Brian C. Buescher, an Omaha-based lawyer nominated by President Trump to sit on the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska.

In written questions sent to Mr. Buescher by committee members on December 5, Sen. Hirono stated that “the Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions. For example, it was reportedly one of the top contributors to California’s Proposition 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriage.”

Hirono then asked Buescher if he would quit the group if he was confirmed “to avoid any appearance of bias.”

“The Knights of Columbus does not have the authority to take personal political positions on behalf of all of its approximately two million members,” Buescher responded.

“If confirmed, I will apply all provisions of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges regarding recusal and disqualification,” he said.

Kathleen Blomquist, spokesperson for the Knights of Columbus, told CNA that the senators’ questions echoed the kind of anti-Catholicism seen in previous generations.

“We were extremely disappointed to see that one’s commitment to Catholic principles through membership in the Knights of Columbus—a charitable organization that adheres to and promotes Catholic teachings — would be viewed as a disqualifier from public service in this day and age,” Blomquist told CNA.

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