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WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) – On Wednesday, Republican U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri grilled President Joe Biden’s nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Loren AliKhan, over her support of targeting religious gatherings for COVID-19 lockdowns, during her time as Solicitor General of the nation’s capital.

Hawley asked AliKhan about her role in Capitol Hill Baptist Church v. Bowser, a 2020 case in which Capitol Hill Baptist Church sued the D.C. government for refusing to grant it a waiver from the city’s ban on outdoor worship gatherings of 100 or more people even if conducted with masks and social distancing.

Represented by First Liberty Institute and with a friend-of-the-court brief by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the church argued that the refusal was discriminatory, noting that the city allowed secular gatherings for the Black Lives Matter movement (a double standard replicated by many left-wing cities), and won.

AliKhan answered in the affirmative that it was wrong to discriminate on the basis of religion, to which Hawley responded by asking, “Then why did you argue that religious services and religious people pose a greater risk of infection than people gathered to argue for defunding the police?”

She claimed that her defense of Democrat D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s policy was informed by consultation with epidemiologists who told her that “the nature of singing and other things” could “transmit COVID at a higher rate.”

Hawley followed up by asking why she submitted no “scientific evidence in the record” backing that decision, which AliKhan defended on the grounds that the case had been “fast-moving.”

“You offered no scientific evidence for it,” Hawley declared. “You pressed these arguments over and over and over without any foundation. Frankly, I’m disappointed that you made those arguments, you can choose what arguments to make.”

At another point, Hawley asked her why she ultimately lost the case, which she repeatedly attempted to frame as a technical matter of the order not meeting the judicial “strict scrutiny” test, while avoiding saying plainly that the district’s position had been found unconstitutional.

“Do you want me to go through it for you?” Hawley asked. “You lost this because Mayor Bowser was going to mass protests, herself personally, with thousands of people. At the same time, she was doing that, she was prohibiting churches, religious people, from gathering socially distanced outside, wearing masks, and the district court said, ‘You can’t do that, that’s discrimination.'”

“I’m disappointed that you’ve persisted in defending them here today and for that reason, among others, I will not support your nomination,” Hawley concluded.

Nevertheless, AliKhan is expected to be confirmed by the narrowly Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate. Bowser, meanwhile, who went on to keep supporting COVID mandates well into 2022, was reelected last year with 74.8% of the vote.