Joe Biden seems to have great difficulty with the nominees that he puts forward, whether it’s for positions in his administration or for the federal courts, they keep getting busted by members of Congress for their bad stances.
Biden has nominated Loren AliKhan to be a United States District Judge for the District of Columbia. AliKhan presently serves as an associate judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which is the highest court in D.C. and essentially operates like a state supreme court. She was also solicitor general of the District of Columbia from 2018 to 2022.
But she faced a tough grilling from some of the Republican senators, including Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), who asked her about a case that she argued when she was representing D.C. Hawley grilled AliKhan about her position: “Why were the restrictions you defended struck down as discriminatory?”
Josh Hawley vs. Loren AliKhan— Salem News Channel (@WatchSalemNews) June 7, 2023
🔥 🔥 🔥 pic.twitter.com/sH4FWk25t7
AliKhan gave a “lawyer answer” noting that their restrictions were not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling governmental interest. Hawley pointed out, in non-legalese, that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser was attending and allowing massive BLM protests, while shutting down church services because of COVID — even if those services were outside, socially distanced, wearing masks.
Hawley wasn’t done there. He asked AliKhan if she thought it was wrong to discriminate based on religious faith.
Senator @HawleyMO: "Do you think it's wrong to discriminate on the basis of religious faith?"— Carrie Severino (@JCNSeverino) June 7, 2023
Biden’s district judge nominee for D.C Loren AliKhan: "Absolutely."
Senator Hawley: "Then why did you argue that religious services and religious people pose a greater risk of… pic.twitter.com/lqMPt3Q8x4
AliKhan said, “Absolutely, Senator.”
Hawley replied, “Then why did you argue that religious services and religious people pose a greater risk of infection than people gathered to argue for defunding the police?”
She claimed that she was representing her client, the mayor.
But Hawley pressed her and asked why she made that argument about religious people, “Why’d you make that argument? This seems like a strange argument to me that religious people are somewhat more infectious than folks who have other ideological positions. I don’t get it.”
Alikhan claimed it was her “understanding…the nature of singing and other things, epidemiologists thought could transmit COVID at a higher rate.”
But Hawley noted that she didn’t submit any “scientific evidence” to support that claim. Plus, is she saying there isn’t any yelling/chanting/singing at BLM protests? Has she been to one? That’s a significant part of what they do. Is it any wonder that the court didn’t buy what AliKhan was trying to sell them?
She responded, “Senator, those were fast-moving cases and they weren’t going to full briefing and full summary judgment with a record.”
But Hawley wasn’t letting that go by.
That’s not what the district court said. The district court said that you engaged in and your client engaged in, and you defended discrimination on the basis of religious belief. That you offered no scientific evidence for it that you pressed these arguments over and over and over without any foundation. Frankly, I’m disappointed that you made those arguments. You can choose what arguments to make. I’m disappointed you made those arguments. I’m disappointed you persisted in defending them here today. And for that reason, among others, I will not support your nomination.
This was in D.C., but we saw this type of discrimination and the random nature of restrictions across the country in all kinds of settings. It’s what happens when you start down the slippery slope of stepping on people’s rights. It’s what happens when you have the government endorsing one type of group gathering because they are operating in line with the government’s preferred narrative, versus the religious people who are not. It’s the very essence of why we have the rule of law — so there isn’t such discrimination; so that we don’t become a banana republic.
We wrote about some of this insanity. Mayor Bowser for example defended going to a victory celebration for Joe Biden in November 2020 and then not having to quarantine, despite D.C. rules, because she said it was “essential travel.” She exempted herself from the rules. Then, while some people had to restrict the number they had at funerals, a large number of elites were allowed in attendance at Rep. John Lewis’ funeral — and they were not required to quarantine. Members of Congress were also not required to comply with the masks in public indoor spaces rule that D.C. had at the time.
Some people are more equal than others.
And Joe Biden apparently is just fine with nominees who would defend a discriminatory position.