Booker also asked Rao if she had ever employed an “LGBTQ law clerk.”
The nominee reminded the senator that she had never previously served as a judge, and so had never employed law clerks. She did said she did not question her staff about their sexual orientation.
“I take people as they come,” Rao said. “Irrespective of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, I treat people as individuals.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) took offense with Booker’s questioning, particularly the question of whether Rao believes that homosexuality is a sin.
Cruz said that there is “a growing pattern among Senate Democrats of hostility to religious faith,” said Cruz, adding that he was “deeply troubled” by what Booker had asked Rao.
“In my view [a nominee’s view of sinfulness] has no business in this committee. Article VI of the Constitution says there shall be no religious test for any public office,” said Cruz. He reminded the committee that “we have [already] seen Senate Democrats attack what they characterized as religious dogma,” alluding to the questioning given to now-Judge Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation hearing.
The Senate Judiciary Committee should not be a “theological court of inquisition,” said Cruz, and should instead focus on a nominee’s record, not her religious beliefs.
The American Bar Association said on Monday that they rated Rao to be “well qualified” for the position.
Booker was not the only member of the Senate to question Rao about LGBT rights during the confirmation hearing.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) also questioned Rao about her beliefs regarding the rights of LGBT persons. In response, Rao stated that she believes everyone, regardless of sexuality, is deserving of dignity and that she would follow legal precedent.
Hirono, together with Senator Kamala Harris, (D-CA), had previously questioned judicial nominee Brian Beuscher over his membership of the Knights of Columbus.
Last month Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) proposed and passed a unanimous consent resolution in the Senate condemning religious tests for candidates for office. Hirono called that resolution part of an “alt-right agenda.”