November 26, 2013
Court grants cert in HHS Mandate cases
As expected, the Court agreed to consider HHS mandate cases. The Court agreed to review the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases. http://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/112613zr_ed9g.pdf
November 11, 2013
Roe at 40 conference
On November 7-8, 2013, Washington & Lee University School of Law hosted a conference marking the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The conference, Roe at 40: The Controversy Continues,http://law.wlu.edu/lawcenter/page.asp?pageid=1620 , was largely organized by Sam Calhoun. The conference was co-sponsored by University Faculty for Life, ACLU of Virginia, Virginia NOW, the Frances Lewis Law Center, the Washington and Lee Law Review, and the Provost’s Office of Washington and Lee University.
The conference was unusual in that a variety of perspectives on abortion were included. The speakers were (in order of appearance): Clarke Forsythe, David Garrow, Sam Calhoun, Mary Zeigler, Richard Myers, Priscilla Smith, Tom Molony, Caroline Mala Corbin, Teresa Collett, Kathy Greenier, Randy Beck, Caitlin Borgman, Michael Paulsen, Maya Manian, Lynne Marie Kohm, Robin Wilson/Ryan Hrobak, and James Mahon. The papers from the conference will be published by the Washington and Lee Law Review.
The conference was quite interesting. I know all of the attendees greatly appreciated the hospitality of Sam Calhoun and everyone at Washington and Lee. The inclusion of diverse perspectives led to some contentious exchanges. I thought one of the fascinating aspects of the conference was the efforts of the supporters of abortion rights to deal with the issue of sex-selection abortion. One response, which revealed how extreme the law is in this country, was that the state can’t ever second guess a woman’s reason to have an abortion at any time during pregnancy. Another response indicated that these abortions didn’t really constitute sex discrimination against girls because until birth these were only potential girls.
This issue–sex-selection abortion–reveals (as do abortions for reason of disability) that the most important principle for supporters of abortion rights is not equality. The governing principle is the autonomous power to make life and death decisons about another human life.
August 08, 2013
Clarke Forsythe's book on Roe v. Wade
I just read an advance copy of Clarke Forsythe's excellent new book on Roe v. Wade. Here is the Amazon link. http://www.amazon.com/Abuse-Discretion-Inside-Story-Wade/dp/1594036926 Clarke is Senior Counsel at Americans United for Life and has been a leader in the pro-life fight for nearly three decades.
Here is a description of the book from Amazon:
"Based on 20 years of research, including an examination of the papers of eight
of the nine Justices who voted in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton,
Abuse of Discretion is a critical review of the behind-the-scenes
deliberations that went into the Supreme Court's abortion decisions and how the
mistakes made by the Justices in 1971-1973 have led to the turmoil we see today
in legislation, politics, and public health.
The first half of the book
looks at the mistakes made by the Justices, based on the case files, the oral
arguments, and the Justices’ papers. The second half of the book critically
examines the unintended consequences of the abortion decisions in law, politics,
and women’s health.
Why do the abortion decisions remain so controversial
after almost 40 years, despite more than 50,000,000 abortions, numerous
presidential elections, and a complete turnover in the Justices? Why did such a
sweeping decision—with such important consequences for public health, producing
such prolonged political turmoil—come from the Supreme Court in 1973?
Answering those questions is the aim of this book. The controversy over
the abortion decisions has hardly subsided, and the reasons why are to be found
in the Justices’ deliberations in 1971-1972 that resulted in the unprecedented
decision they issued."
August 04, 2013
"Critiques of the New Natural Law Theory"
The most recent issue of the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly (Spring 2013) is devoted to critiques of the new natural law theory (NNLT). The issue contains articles by Father Kevin Flannery SJ, Steven Long, and John Goyette and shorter essays by Fulvio Di Blasi, Matthew O'Brien, Michael Pakaluk, and Edward Feser. Many of the pieces focus on the NNLT's understanding of intention, an issue that has been featured in earlier discussions on Mirror of Justice of issues such as craniotomy and the treatment of ectopic pregnancies.
June 14, 2013
Dr. Edmund Pellegrino, R.I.P.
Dr. Edmund Pellegrino died yesterday at the age of 92. He was a giant and his passing is a great loss. I had the privilege of introducing him several years ago when he received an award from University Faculty for Life and that was a daunting task. Dr. Pellegrino seemed to have enough accomplishments to fill several careers. Among other things, he served as the Chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics and was a former President of Catholic University. He authored dozens of books and over 600 articles. His work always emphasized the interpersonal relationship between physician and patient and the importance of the virtues. He emphasized fidelity, trust, benevolence, truth-telling, intellectual honesty, humility, courage, and the suppression of self-interest. In a speech of his, he mentioned that the most effective teachers are the ones who lead by example. By all accounts, Dr. Pellegrino's inspiring example has influenced countless young doctors to understand their obligations to their patients and to understand the importance of doctors who work for the true good of their patients. He was also noted for his humility and for his warm human qualities.
Please say a prayer for this great man.
March 26, 2013
Indiana voucher program upheld
Here is a link to the welcome decision by the Indiana Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of the state's voucher program. http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/03261301bd.pdf
March 05, 2013
another symposium on Pope John Paul II and the Law
Rick's recent posts remind me of a a conference held in the fall of 2006 at Ave Maria School of Law on "Pope John Paul II and the Law." The Ave Maria Law Review later published the papers by (in order of appearance) George Weigel, Father Robert Araujo SJ, Father Kevin Flannery SJ, Jane Adolphe, Ed Peters, Gerry Bradley, Richard Myers, James Eyster, and Howard Bromberg. For links to the articles, see here and here
February 12, 2013
more thoughts on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI
I very much appreciate all of the comments from my colleagues on MOJ about the resignation of Pope Benedict. I was just re-reading some of Benedict's early speeches as Pope. In those speeches from April and May 2005, he frequently notes his own frailities and inadequacies. He makes it clear that his vision was not to promote his own views. In an address to the clergy of Rome, he stated: "we are not sent to proclaim ourselves or our personal opinions, but the mystery of Christ and, in him, the measure of true humanism."
Discussing Benedict's legacy, while entirely to be expected, fails to understand that he viewed his role as proclaiming Christ. As John Breen noted, this was perhaps most effectively done in his homilies. One reads Benedict's homilies and it is easy to forget their author. This was precisely the point. As a teacher (and we would do well to follow this example in our own teaching), Benedict disappears and what shines forth is the Gospel and Jesus Christ.
His humble resignation reinforces the same point, as others have noted.
Benedict's success seems to have been, in the face of an increasingly secular world, to propose the Gospel with simplicity and depth.
December 12, 2012
"Quebec's 'totalitarian' take on religious education in high school"
Here is a link to a column by Barbara Kay on a recent decision from the Quebec Court of Appeal rejecting Loyola High School's request for an exemption from the requirement that the school teach the province's mandated program called "Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC)."http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/12/12/barbara-kay-quebecs-totalitarian-take-on-religious-education-in-high-school/
Parents in the US have had very little success in seeking opt-outs from the public school curriculum. I haven't read the court's opinion, which I think is only available in French. Perhaps the case is complicated by Canada's system of providing public funding for private education, although that seems unlikely since the ERC apparently also applies to homeschoolers.
I suspect that the case would be decided the same way in the US, at least as a matter of US constitutional law.
November 30, 2012
Richard Wilkins passes away at 59
The pro-life and pro-family causes suffered a great loss earlier this week with the untimely passing of BYU Law Professor Richard Wilkins. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865567647/BYU-law-professor-well-known-Utah-stage-actor-Richard-Wilkins-passes-away-at-59.html He will be sorely missed.