Last week, Loren AliKhan, one of President Biden’s judicial nominees, faced a harsh dressing down from Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley over her defense of pandemic policies that discriminated against churches, when she served as solicitor general for the District of Columbia, The Blaze reported.
In 2020, when the Capitol Hill Baptist Church sued Mayor Muriel Bowser alleging religious discrimination for keeping churches shut down while encouraging Black Lives Matter protests during the George Floyd riots, it was AliKhan who defended the city in court.
The federal judge in the case found in favor of the church, ruling that the city violated Capitol Hill Baptist’s religious freedom. The city chose not to appeal the ruling.
During her nomination hearing to serve as a federal district court judge, Hawley brought up AliKhan’s defense of Bowser’s policies, something she did not want to discuss.
When asked by Hawley why she lost the case, AliKhan said the city failed to prove a compelling government interest in the pandemic restrictions.
Hawley clarified if AliKhan meant that the restrictions were unconstitutional, prompting her to clarify that the restrictions “did not survive strict scrutiny,” adding that the city’s decision to appeal is “a matter of public record.”
Hawley pressed further, demanding to know why the judge struck down the restrictions as discriminatory.
But after AliKhan made several attempts to avoid answering Hawley’s question, the Missouri Republican dismissed her slippery answers by describing them as “legalese.” He demanded that she explain why the court struck down the restrictions “on the facts.”
But AliKhan refused to come out and say that the restrictions were discriminatory, instead, falling back on the “strict scrutiny test” and how the restrictions did not “serve a compelling governmental interest,” prompting Hawley to add, “Because….?”
Finally, Hawley answered the question for her, explaining that the court determined that the city couldn’t allow “mass protests” with “thousands of people” while “prohibiting churches” from worshiping outside while social distancing and masked because “that’s discrimination.”