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.
July 11, 2012
The danger of "terminal" or "deep" sedation
Here is a link to a good piece by Dr. Peter Saunders addressing the use of deep sedation by Dutch doctors to hide assisted suicides. http://www.lifenews.com/2012/07/11/dutch-doctors-use-deep-sedation-to-hide-assisted-suicides/ The use of "terminal sedation" to advance the euthanasia movement is worth careful attention. The use of "deep sedation" or "terminal sedation" needs to be distinguished from a legitimate technique--the use of sedation for symptom relief (so-called "palliative sedation").
There is a careful treatment of this complex topic in Joseph Piccione's entry on "palliative sedation" in volume 3 of the Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy. http://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Catholic-Social-Thought-Science/dp/0810882663
June 28, 2012
Stolen Valor Act violates the 1st Amendment
Here is another important decision from the Supreme Court. In US v. Alvarez, the Court (6-3) invalidated the Stolen Valor Act, which makes it a crime to falsely claim that one has received military decorations or medals. I found the dissent from Justice Alito far more persuasive than Justice Kennedy's plurality opinion. From the first page of his dissent, here is a good summary of Justice Alito's view:
"The Court strikes down the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, which was enacted to stem an epidemic of false claims about military decorations. These lies, Congress reasonably concluded, were undermining our country’s system of military honors and inflicting real harm on actual medal recipients and their families. Building on earlier efforts to protect the military awards system, Congress responded to this problem by crafting a narrow statute that presents no threat to the freedom ofspeech. The statute reaches only knowingly false statements about hard facts directly within a speaker’s per- sonal knowledge. These lies have no value in and of themselves, and proscribing them does not chill anyvaluable speech. By holding that the First Amendment nevertheless shields these lies, the Court breaks sharply from a long line of cases recognizing that the right to free speech does not protect false factual statements that inflict real harm and serve no legitimate interest. I would adhere to that principle and would thus uphold the constitutionality of this valuable law." Richard M.
"The Court strikes down the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, which was enacted to stem an epidemic of false claims about military decorations. These lies, Congress reasonably concluded, were undermining our country’s system of military honors and inflicting real harm on actual medal recipients and their families.
Building on earlier efforts to protect the military awards system, Congress responded to this problem by crafting a narrow statute that presents no threat to the freedom ofspeech. The statute reaches only knowingly false statements about hard facts directly within a speaker’s per- sonal knowledge. These lies have no value in and of themselves, and proscribing them does not chill anyvaluable speech.
By holding that the First Amendment nevertheless shields these lies, the Court breaks sharply from a long line of cases recognizing that the right to free speech does not protect false factual statements that inflict real harm and serve no legitimate interest. I would adhere to that principle and would thus uphold the constitutionality of this valuable law."
June 08, 2012
terrific University Faculty for Life conference at BYU
Dr. Bill May gave a plenary address on brain death after receiving UFL's major award for distinguished contributions to pro-life scholarship. The conference featured papers from a range of disciplines--medicine, law, philosophy, theology, history, literature, political science, and nursing. Law related papers were presented by Clarke Forsythe (AUL), Scott Gaylord (Elon), Tom Molony (Elon), Richard Myers (Ave Maria), Stephen Gilles (Quinnipiac), William Duncan (Marriage Law Foundation), Robert Delahunty (St. Thomas), and Teresa Collett (St. Thomas).
Next year's conference will be May 31 and June 1, 2013 at the University of San Francisco.
May 07, 2012
supplement to Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought published
Along with Michael Coulter, Steve Krason, and Joe Varacalli, I had the privilege of co-editing the Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy (2007). The original 2 volumes contained over 800 entries (typically 1,000-2,000 words in length) on a variety of topics related to Catholic Social Thought.
I thought I'd ask for indulgence in announcing the publication of volume 3. See for the Amazon link. See for the publisher's link (the volumes have been published by Scarecrow Press, a division of Rowman & Littlefield). The 3rd volume contains over 200 entries from over 100 contributors.
The contributors to the 3rd volume include from MOJ Fr. Araujo SJ, Robby George, Kevin Lee, Lisa Schiltz, and Amy Uelmen. Other contributors include Father John Coughlin OFM, Bob Fastiggi, Father Kevin Flannery SJ, Luke Gormally, David Gregory, Tom Kohler, Father Joseph Koterski SJ, Mark Latkovic, William May, Robert Moynihan, Michael Novak, DQ McInerny, Maurizio Ragazzi, Ron Rychlak, and Lee Strang.
The 3rd volume includes entries of varying types. First, the volume includes entries that explore Catholic social thought at its broadest, most theoretical level; for example, an entry on Pope Benedict’s important social encyclical Caritas in Veritate. Second, the volume includes entries that discuss recent social science research that bears on issues important to Catholic social thought; for example, an entry on the social costs of pornography draws on recent research on the topic. Third, the volume includes entries discussing specific issues of social policy that have become increasingly important in recent years; for example, an entry on embryo adoption and/or rescue.
I encourage readers to take a look at this new volume (the Amazon link includes the first 19 pages, the index to volume 3, and the full list of entries and contributors to all 3 volumes) and if you are so inclined to ask your library to purchase a copy.
May 01, 2012
more on St. Joseph
Thanks to Susan for calling our attention to the important feast we celebrate today. Here is a link to an underappreciated apostolic exhortation on St. Joseph written by Blessed Pope John Paul II. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_15081989_redemptoris-custos_en.html
April 19, 2012
Teresa Collett defends Pain-Capable Child Protection Acts
Here is a good article on the Public Discourse website by Teresa Collett (president of University Faculty for Life) defending Pain-Capable Child Protection Acts. http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/04/5176 Teresa explains: “These laws are premised on the idea that an unborn child’s capacity to feel pain, independent of fetal viability, is sufficient to establish the humanity of the child and to sustain a limited prohibition on abortion. Like partial-birth abortion bans, these laws advance public recognition of the unborn child’s humanity and should be supported.” The article discusses the evidence supporting the view that unborn children can feel pain at about 20 weeks post-fertilization. It also discusses the constitutionality of these bans. On the constitutional issue, Teresa concludes:”
Recognition of a compelling state interest in the protection of pain-capable unborn children does not require the Court to reject a woman’s liberty interest in obtaining an abortion or the balancing framework of Casey. It only asks the Court to recognize the legislature’s ability to use new scientific evidence that supports a strong state interest in regulating abortions at twenty weeks after fertilization. Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Acts modestly expand upon the states’ interests in the protection of fetal life and affirm the value of unborn life as recognized in the latest Supreme Court cases addressing abortion.”
March 30, 2012
Teresa Collett on CIANA
On the Public Discourse website, here is a good commentary by Teresa Collett (University of St. Thomas law professor and president of University Faculty for Life) on CIANA (the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act). CIANA is designed to prevent the transportation of minors across state lines to obtain abortions without complying with the parental involvement laws of the minor's home state. (Some years ago, I testified on some of the constitutional issues raised by CIANA. See.) Teresa's commentary and her congressional testimony focus on why parental involvement laws promote the health of young women.
March 16, 2012
Winter 2011 issue of the NCBQ
I just received in the mail the latest issue (volume 11; no. 4; Winter 2011) of the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly. The NCBQ, edited by Ted Furton, typically includes excellent scholarship on bioethics issues. This issue is no exception. I wanted to call particular attention to a piece by Rev. Kevin Flannery SJ entitled "Vital Conflicts and the Catholic Magisterial Tradition." In this article, Father Flannery discusses the Phoenix abortion case and takes issue with the moral analysis of Therese Lysaught, which was largely based on the analysis of Father Martin Rhonheimer. Father Flannery presented an earlier version of this paper at the University Faculty for Life conference at Notre Dame in June 2011. (I should note that the 2012 UFL conference is scheduled for June 1-2, 2012 at BYU Law School.)
February 21, 2012
Supreme Court of Canada rejects parental opt-out claim
The Supreme Court of Canada has rejected the claim that the refusal of the school board to allow an exemption from the controversial Ethics and Religious Culture Program voiolates the rights of the parents who sought to exempt their children from the ERC program. The case, S.L. v. Commission scolaire des Chenes, is basically the Canadian version of the Mozert case. The parents argued that the program, which they contended promoted relativism, interfered with their ability to control the education of their children. The Supreme Court of Canada concluded that the mere exposure of the children to the program did not infringe their freedom of religion because the children were not forced to join any of the religions discussed in the program.Richard M.