The Point: Of Judges and Fried Fish


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At a recent confirmation hearing, Republican Senator Ben Sasse facetiously asked Third Circuit Court judicial nominee Peter Phipps, “Are you now or have you ever been involved in the organization of a fish fry?”

Senator Sasse was rightly taking a dig at what he called a “new tradition” in the Senate judiciary committee: “trying to figure out if people are members of religious organizations.”

He was tacitly referring to organizations like The Knights of Columbus, which organizes Lenten fish fries, and also, of course, upholds Catholic teaching on human life and marriage.

It’s those beliefs, not the fish fries, that are too much for Democratic Senators like Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, who asked another judicial nominee if he would resign from the Knights if confirmed. Phipps was also asked about his membership.

It’s difficult to figure out what senators think they will achieve by imposing a religious test for office in violation of Article VI of the Constitution.

After all, what if these nominees just prefer baked fish?


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Image: U. S. Senate Confirmation Hearing, YouTube

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