Trump judicial pick pressed on accusing Christian farm of ‘discrimination’ against same-sex ‘weddings’

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 23, 2019 – Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri scrutinized another of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees Wednesday for an apparent disconnect between his record and the conservative legal philosophy the president pledged during his campaign.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was questioning Michael Bogren, Trump’s nominee to be a federal district judge for the Western District of Michigan, the Detroit Free Press reports. Hawley, a conservative freshman, used his opportunity to question Bogren on his role as an attorney for the City of East Lansing during a 2017 religious liberty dispute.

As LifeSiteNews covered at the time, the city was trying to bar Steve and Bridget Tennes, owners of Country Mill Farms in Charlotte, from its local farmers’ market due to the Christian family farm’s refusal to host same-sex “weddings.” A district judge granted a preliminary request to let the Tennes family in while their lawsuit progressed, and last month the family’s attorneys appeared before the Western District Court to make their case.

Representing the city’s efforts to keep the family out, Bogren wrote a brief in 2017 arguing that “discriminatory conduct” being “based on sincerely held religious beliefs does not insulate that conduct from anti-discrimination laws,” noting that members of the Nation of Islam or Ku Klux Klan who opposed interracial marriage “would not be able to … avoid the anti-discrimination provisions of federal, state and local laws that apply to public accommodations if interracial couples were refused service.”

“The message isn’t Catholics need not apply,” but that “discriminators need not apply,” he also said at the time. “The fact that the plaintiff says, ‘My religion compels me,’ does not protect him. There’s a difference between belief and act.” During his questioning this week, Hawley argued that Bogren’s comparison demonstrated “impermissible hostility” toward religious beliefs.

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