More information about Barry Ashe

Ashe has a troubling record of fighting to bring down the wall of separation between state and church.

In 2000, Ashe wrote that “the 5th Circuit is waging a war against religion in the public square.” This statement is concerning for seasoned First Amendment advocates, who will recognize the phrase “war against religion in the public square” as a theocratic dog whistle expressing frustration that Christianity is losing its privileged position within the government. It is not a phrase used by jurists who respect the First Amendment. Indeed, Ashe’s article suggested that the 5th Circuit wrongly decided five cases upholding the separation between state and church, as required by the Constitution’s Establishment Clause.

The 5th Circuit has been historically one of the most hostile federal circuits on cases involving the separation between state and church. Characterizing the 5th Circuit’s enforcement of the Establishment Clause as a “war against religion” suggests that Ashe would use his position as a federal judge to advance a radical theocratic agenda meant to undermine the Supreme Court’s First Amendment rulings.

Senator Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, asked Ashe to clarify his position on this issue in a written question, which he essentially refused to answer, stating only that the Fifth Circuit “faithfully perform[ed] its duty” at the time.

Ashe’s response to another question was even worse. He defended a “disclaimer” on public school textbooks warning students that the book contained facts about biological evolution. When asked whether he interprets the Establishment Clause to permit public schools to “present creationism as an alternative theory to evolution” — which it unequivocally does not, according to several Supreme Court rulings — Ashe pointed to a quote in one such case, Edwards v. Aguillard, that “teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind . . . might be” permissible. His emphasis of that out-of-context quote strongly signals that he would allow the teaching of creationism in public schools, because he views creationism as a “scientific theory.”

Needless to say, creationism is pure religious mythology, not a scientific theory. The Supreme Court has said this clearly, but Ashe apparently intends to ignore Supreme Court holdings that do not advance his personal religious views if given the opportunity as a federal judge.

Several of Trump’s judicial appointees have been so unfit to serve that they were withdrawn. Please contact the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee today to urge them to add Barry Ashe to this group by rejecting his appointment to the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Freedom From Religion Foundation