Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri said he won’t vote for one of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees because of arguments she made that religious Americans were more likely to spread COVID-19.
Hawley, who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was questioning Loren AliKhan, Biden’s nominee for United States District Judge for the District of Columbia. Hawley asked if AliKhan believed it was wrong to discriminate against religious communities and questioned her previous comments about the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Do you think it’s wrong to discriminate on the basis of religious faith,” Hawley asked?
“Absolutely,” AliKhan said.
“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,” Hawley replied?
“My understanding was the nature of singing and other things, epidemiologists thought could transmit COVID at a higher rate,” AliKhan said.
Hawley followed up by asking why AliKhan didn’t submit any “scientific evidence in the record” when making those arguments, to which AliKhan replied that the cases were “fast-moving.” Hawley pointed to the district court’s decision, noting that the judge had ruled that the lockdown orders for churches constituted “discrimination.”
“You offered no scientific evidence for it,” Hawley said. “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 that you’ve persisted in defending them here today and for that reason, among others, I will not support your nomination.”
AliKhan’s office declined to provide a comment.
Hawley said that the vast majority of religious Americans are following public health guidelines and are taking steps to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.
“To suggest that religious Americans are somehow more likely to spread the virus is simply not true,” Hawley said. “It’s a dangerous and irresponsible stereotype that should not be tolerated.”
Senator @HawleyMO: "Do you think it's wrong to discriminate on the basis of religious faith?"
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
— Carrie Severino (@JCNSeverino) June 7, 2023