ThinkProgress recorded Herman Cain on video stating that he will not appoint a Muslim to neither his cabinet, nor the federal bench. Here’s a partial transcript from the video above:
KEYES: You came under a bit of controversy this week for some of the comments made about Muslims in general. Would you be comfortable appointing a Muslim, either in your cabinet or as a federal judge?
CAIN: No, I would not. And here’s why. There is this creeping attempt, there is this attempt to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government. It does not belong in our government. This is what happened in Europe. And little by little, to try and be politically correct, they made this little change, they made this little change. And now they’ve got a social problem that they don’t know what to do with hardly.
The question that was asked that “raised some questions” and, as my grandfather said, “I does not care, I feel the way I feel.” I was asked, “what is the role of Islam in America?” I thought it was an odd question. I said the role of Islam in America is for those that believe in Islam to practice it and leave us alone. Just like Christianity. We have a First Amendment. And I get upset when the Muslims in this country, some of them, try to force their Sharia law onto the rest of us.
What’s particularly remarkable about this statement from Cain is that he is running as an embodiment of the Tea Party’s view of the Constitution. Not shockingly, this practically necessitates that Cain get the Constitution wrong. The “No Religious Test” clause of Article VI clearly prohibits Cain from doing exactly what he’s saying he’ll do:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
Steve Benen notes that while Cain’s statement is remarkable in its stupidity and insensitivity, Mitt Romney repeatedly made similar statements during the 2008 primary:
In the fall of 2007, Romney said he would not consider Muslim Americans for his cabinet. Indeed, he said this more than once, in front of plenty of witnesses.
Cain’s bigotry seems remarkable, and it is, but he’s an afterthought in Republican politics. Romney, meanwhile, is arguably the frontrunner, and despite his pleas for tolerance of religious diversity when it comes to his own personal faith, Romney is already on record favoring Cain-like discrimination.
It’d be great if an enterprising young reporter asked Romney if he still agrees with Cain’s stance and would apply an unconstitutional religious test to people he considers for his cabinet and the federal judiciary.
3/29/11 Update: Herman Cain has now walked back his support for an unconstitutional religious test to keep Muslims out of his Cabinet and off the federal bench.