Written by Don Byrd

During his second day of questioning from Senators, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh engaged in a number of discussions related to religious freedom. For reference I have clipped those excerpts from C-Span’s coverage, which you can watch by following the links as described below:

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) asked Kavanaugh about the role of his private faith in his judicial decisions. The nominee assured the committee that his religious beliefs “have no relevance” to his judging. You can watch that exchange at this link:

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who also asked about religious freedom during day 2 of the hearings, asked Kavanaugh about his involvement in and views on a school prayer case involving a football coach. Kavanaugh had authored an amicus brief in support of the prayer but the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately rejected his view and found the prayers impermissible. You can watch him discuss that case and school prayer cases generally, which he described as “challenging” and “fact-specific” cases, as well as his involvement in the Good News Club case at this link

Cruz then asked Judge Kavanaugh to describe the Priests for Life case, a case involving the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Kavanaugh wrote a dissenting opinion for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case, arguing in favor of the plaintiffs’ claim that the method of accommodation provided by the government was a substantial burden on their religious free exercise in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The U.S. Supreme Court later dismissed the claim without deciding the underlying issue. You can hear his discussion of the case and the importance of RFRA at this link:

Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) followed up with Judge Kavanaugh on the Priests for Life case, asking him to explain his conclusion that the 2-page notification form required of religious organizations for accommodation from the contraceptive mandate was itself an impermissible burden. She found that reasoning “defied logic.” You can watch that exchange at this link

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asked Judge Kavanaugh about a 2001 email suggesting he was “mapping a strategy” within the Bush Administration to allow faith-based organizations receiving federal funding to discriminate in hiring. You can watch that exchange at this link:

You can watch a clip from the first day of questioning in which Kavanaugh discusses religious freedom at yesterday’s blog post.

For more on Judge Kavanaugh’s record on religious freedom, see the review from the BJC’s Holly Hollman and read an open letter to Kavanaugh on the importance of the Establishment Clause by the BJC’s Jennifer Hawks.