Is it already “extreme” — just three years after the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges — to confine marriage to a union between a man and a woman? According to Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), it is.
In written questions for Brian Buescher, one of President Donald Trump’s federal judicial nominees, this month, she raised concerns about the nominee’s ties to the Knights of Columbus.
The Catholic-based fraternal organization, she argued, has engaged in a number of “extreme positions,” including supporting California’s proposed Constitutional amendment codifying marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
According to the Catholic News Agency (CNA), Hirono stated in written questions that “the Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions.”
“For example,” she continued, “it was reportedly one of the top contributors to California’s Proposition 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriage.”
Her written questions also pressed Buescher on whether he would cancel his membership and recuse himself from cases involving issues on which the Knights had taken a position. Hirono also asked how Americans could have confidence that he would impartially adjudicate cases involving “reproductive rights and abortion issues.”
Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) similarly peppered Buescher with questions about his positions on abortion and same-sex couples.
Referencing one of the Knight’s leaders, Harris asked:
“Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?”
“Do you agree with Mr. Anderson that abortion is ‘the killing of the innocent on a massive scale?’”
“Do you agree with Mr. Anderson that legal abortion in the United States has ‘resulted in more than 40 million deaths?’”
“Have you ever, in any way, assisted with or contributed to advocacy against women’s reproductive rights? If the answer is ‘yes,’ please explain the nature and scope of your assistance.”
She also asked:
“Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed marriage equality when you joined the organization?”
“Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus supported Proposition 8 in California?”
“Have you ever, in any way, assisted with or contributed to advocacy against LGBTQ rights? If the answer is ‘yes,’ please explain the nature and scope of your assistance.”
Buescher responded to those questions by refusing to opine directly on the issues and by assuring the senators he would abide by U.S. law governing judges’ conduct. He also seemed to distance himself from some of the Knights’ statements and told Harris he would apply abortion precedent like Planned Parenthood v. Casey to future decisions.
The Knights of Columbus Council in Washington, D.C. responded by claiming it doesn’t hold extreme beliefs and ticking off its many charitable activities.
“We recently read about statements which expressed the fear that the Knights of Columbus held many extreme beliefs,” the group said in an open letter to Hirono and Harris. “It is our great pleasure to assure you that this fear is not grounded in any truth. ”
As CNA noted, the Knights raised more than $185 million for charity and conducted more than 75 million hours in volunteer time in 2017.