State senator Joe Pennacchio today called on the United States Senate to condemn U.S. Senators Kamala Harris (D-California) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) in light of reports that the two Democratic Senators made what Pennacchio cited as anti-Catholic and bigoted comments during their review of Brian Buescher’s judicial nomination to the U.S. District Court in Nebraska.
Pennacchio also questioned why New Jersey’s U.S. Senators, Cory Booker and Bob Menendez, who represent a large Catholic population, have yet to speak out. During the hearing, U.S. Sens. Harris and Hirono insinuated that Buescher would not be able to rule fairly and impartially because he is a longtime member of the Knights of Columbus.
“Religious intolerance and bigotry of any kind has no place in the halls of government,” said Pennacchio. “I have yet to hear either of our U.S. Senate representatives condemn these remarks. Their silence is deafening. No one should be excluded from serving in the judiciary because of their faith.
“Roman Catholicism is the second largest religion in the United States, and the Knights of Columbus is an honorable service organization that has given back to millions of people,” the Republican state senator from Morris County added. This is not a cause for concern and insinuating otherwise is irresponsible and misleading. Make no mistake – the attack on the Knights of Columbus was an attack on the Church itself. The U.S. Senate should formerly condemn Senators Harris and Hirono immediately and their colleagues in Congress should speak out against their conduct. As a Catholic and an American, I am absolutely appalled. It seems that being anti-Catholic or anti-Semitic has become politically-chic, and we should all be alarmed.”
Pennacchio noted that this is not the first time Catholic judicial nominees have been attacked by Democratic U.S. representatives. In 2017, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) levied similar anti-Catholic attacks against judicial nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. He noted that in 2011, Governor Christie and members of the Legislature on both sides of the aisle rallied to support a Muslim judicial nominee who was being attacked for his faith. Pennacchio emphasized that Catholic judicial nominees who are qualified and worthy of serving on the bench should be given the same support.
“We should all be concerned about the rise of bias in this country,” said the senator. “The hateful rhetoric must come to an end and we should shed light on anyone who is spewing hate, regardless of their party affiliation or the faith they are attacking. It is no more acceptable to attack someone for being Catholic, than it is to attack someone for any other religious belief.”