Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called out Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and other Senate Democrats for a trend of "hostility to religious faith" after Booker repeatedly pressed a judicial nominee to address her personal views on the morality of homosexuality.
The exchange took place during a Senate confirmation hearing for Neomi Rao, who was nominated by President Donald Trump to replace Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Booker: Are gay relationships, in your opinion, immoral?
Rao: Senator, I'm not sure of the relevance of that to, you know, my personal view on that.
Booker: I think it's relevant, your opinion. If you think African American relationships are immoral, do you think gay relationships are immoral?
Rao: No, I do not.
Booker: You do not believe that.
Booker: Do you believe they're a sin?
Rao: You know, Senator, my personal views on any of these subjects are things I would put to one side and faithfully follow the precedents of the Supreme Court.
Booker: So you're not willing to say here whether you believe it is sinful for two men to be married? You're not willing to comment on that?
Rao: You know, Senator, uh, no.
Cruz was disturbed by the line of questioning. Her criticized Booker while addressing Rao:
The Senate Judiciary Committee should not be a theater for mischaracterizing or twisting a nominee's views nor an avenue for persecution. We've seen a growing pattern among Senate Democrats of hostility to religious faith. I was deeply troubled a few minutes ago to hear questioning of a nominee asking your personal views on what is sinful. In my view that has no business in this committee. Article 6 of the Constitution says there shall be no religious test for any public office. We have seen Senate Democrats attack what they characterized as religious dogma. We've seen Senate Democrats attack nominees for personal views on salvation. I don't believe this is a theological court of inquisition. I think the proper avenue of investigation for this committee is a nominee's record. So let me ask you about your actual record, which is what this committee should be looking at—not our religious views or your religious views.
After @CoryBooker questioned nominee Neomi Rao’s opinions on the sinfulness of certain behaviors, @TedCruz had the… https://t.co/or6wB1xvCH— Jerry Dunleavy (@Jerry Dunleavy) 1549388315.0
Afterward, Booker defended himself by saying that Cruz, who he called a friend, should know he didn't mean to attack religious freedom. Booker said that his parents told him of times when religion was used as a way to discriminate against black people.