The Republican Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, who was grilling a Biden nominee for the judicial bench on Wednesday, left her speechless after questioning her about her defense of Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.
Loren L. AlKhan represented Bowser, in 2020, in the case of Capitol Hill Baptist Church Vs. Bowser. The church filed a lawsuit against the city over its restrictions regarding outdoor worship services. The church requested a waiver, but it was denied. This was despite the fact the city had been allowing and encouraging large demonstrations following the death of George Floyd.
AliKhan claimed that she was defending her client, the mayor.
Hawley then asked, “How was that case for you?”
AliKhan stated, “We lost this case.”
AliKhan stated that “it was found that restrictions did not meet strict scrutiny”.
Hawley asked, “Does that mean they are unconstitutional?”
“Meaning they didn’t survive strict scrutiny, and it is public record that District of Columbia didn’t appeal that decision.”
Hawley asked, “Why? Why, why?”
“Excuse me, Senator?”
Hawley asked, “Why was it that the restrictions you supported were ruled discriminatory?” Why were they?
They did not satisfy us.
“Why didn’t they?”
The court found that the restrictions were not neutral in terms of their general applicability.
“Yeah” is legalese. Why didn’t the did? Why didn’t the factual evidence convince them? “You know the facts and you are a good attorney, so why did you lose?”
AliKhan stated that “we lost because the court determined, by applying the strict examination test, that the restrictions had not been narrowly tailored in order to serve a compelling government interest.”
AliKhan was stunned and remained silent.
Judge, please don’t force me to do this. You want me to read it over for you? You lost it because Mayor Bowser went to mass protests personally with thousands of people… While she did that, she prohibited churches and religious people from gathering outside socially-distanced, wearing masks. The district court said, ‘you cannot do that, this is discrimination. ‘”
AliKhan stated that the court’s decision was “consistent with other rulings” before Hawley asked one more question.
Why did you say that people who gather to discuss defunding of the police and attend religious services pose a greater infection risk than those who gathered for a discussion on this issue?”
AliKhan stated, “I represented my client.”
Why did you bring up that argument?
AliKhan stated, “My understanding is that the nature of singing as well as other things believed by epidemiologists to be able to transmit COVID more quickly” was his belief.
Hawley expressed his “disappointment” at AliKhan’s argument in court.