A judicial nominee faced questions from Senators this month about whether membership in the Knights of Columbus might impede his ability to judge federal cases fairly. The Knights of Columbus say that no candidate for public office should have to defend his membership in a Catholic service organization.
Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) raised concerns about membership in the Knights of Columbus while the Senate Judiciary Committee reviewed the candidacy 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.
Senators also asked whether belonging to the Catholic charitable organization could prevent judges from hearing cases “fairly and impartially.”
In written questions sent to Buescher by committee members Dec. 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.
President Trump nominated Buescher to serve on the U.S. District Court on Nov. 3. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Buescher’s nomination Nov. 28, sending written questions to him on Dec. 5.
In her questions to the nominee, Sen. Harris described the Knights as “an all-male society” and asked if Buescher was aware that the Knights of Columbus “opposed a woman’s right to choose” and were against “marriage equality” when he joined.
Responding to the senator’s questions, Buescher confirmed that he has been a member of the Knights since he was 18 years old, noting that his membership “has involved participation in charitable and community events in local Catholic parishes.”
“I do not recall if I was aware whether the Knights of Columbus had taken a position on the abortion issue when I joined at the age of 18,” he wrote in response.
Harris raised a statement from Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson, who said that abortion constituted “the killing of the innocent on a massive scale” and asked Buescher if he agreed with Anderson.
Buescher said he was not responsible for drafting statements or policies made by the Knights and that, as a federal judge, he would consider himself bound by judicial precedent regarding abortion.
Full story at Catholic News Agency.