Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Amicus briefs in the Little Sisters of the Poor case

The good folks at the Becket Fund have helpfully collected all of the amicus briefs that were filed in support of the Little Sisters of the Poor's petition for certiorari.  Some (including this one) take time to develop arguments under the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause (that is, they add to the familiar RFRA arguments).  Happy reading!

August 27, 2015 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Surrexit Christus -- Christ is Risen

Some beautiful morning listening.   

August 27, 2015 in Walsh, Kevin | Permalink

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Announcing the Third Biennial Colloquium in Law and Religion

The Center for Law and Religion at St. John’s Law School is pleased to announce its third Clr-logo1biennial Colloquium in Law and Religion, scheduled for Spring 2016. This seminar invites leading law and religion scholars to make presentations to a small audience of students and faculty.

The following speakers have confirmed:

February 1: Brett G. Scharffs (Brigham Young University School of Law)

February 16: Robin Fretwell Wilson (University of Illinois School of Law)

February 29: Robert P. George (Princeton University)

March 14: Mark Tushnet (Harvard Law School)

April 4: Justice Samuel A. Alito (United States Supreme Court)

April 18: Elizabeth H. Prodromou (Boston University & Tufts University Fletcher School of Diplomacy)

Topics will be announced at a future date.

For more information or if you would like to attend the sessions, please contact the colloquium’s organizers, Marc DeGirolami ([email protected]) and Mark Movsesian ([email protected]). For information about past colloquia, please click here, Spring 2012, and here, Spring 2014 (hosted with Villanova Law School).

August 25, 2015 in DeGirolami, Marc | Permalink

Americans United's (and others') misguided attack on religious institutions

There was a fair amount of hoopla occasioned by the release of this letter, from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (formerly "Protestants and Other Americans United . . . .). and about 130 other advocacy and activist organizations.  In a nutshell, they are complaining about -- and want the Administration to abandon -- the practice of allowing religious social-welfare organizations that cooperate with the federal government (or, as they put it, "receive federal funding") to address important and entirely "secular" needs and problems to staff and hire for mission (or, as they put it, to "engage in religious discrimination").

The Administration's policy is the correct one.  No discrimination by these religious institutions *against beneficiaries* is permitted (nor should it be) but the government has wisely said (so far) that religious institutions that provide valuable services -- services that it is entirely appropriate for the government to fund -- are not tainted or otherwise rendered unworthy by virtue of the fact that they hire in accord with their religious mission.  If this hiring is "discrimination", it is not wrongful discrimination, and so the federal government is right not to be bothered by it.

What's really going on here, of course, is troubling:  These groups know full well that there is no pressing problem of religious social-welfare institutions denying employment opportunities to those who do not embrace  those institutions' mission and animating values. In the long tradition of groups like Americans United, the signatories to this letter oppose Catholic schools and other institutions -- they object to the content of what those schools and other institutions teach and do -- and so they are hoping to roll back the principle underlying the Supreme Court's acceptance of school-voucher programs.  

The letter exhibits what I will charitably call "confusion about discrimination."  For more on this problem, read this or this.

August 25, 2015 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

God bless Fr. Araujo

Many people have emailed me to express their deep admiration and affection for our dear friend, Fr. Araujo, who shared details about his health the other day in this moving post.  It would, and will, take a lot more than one blog post to express all that I, and all of us at Mirror of Justice, are thinking, feeling, hoping, and praying for, and so I will not try here.  For now, I'll simply join my colleagues, and all MOJ readers, in looking forward to his manuscript on religious freedom, in praying for his well being, and in thanking God for his vocation and life.

August 25, 2015 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

God bless Fr. Araujo

Many people have emailed me to express their deep admiration and affection for our dear friend, Fr. Araujo, who shared details about his health the other day in this moving post.  It would, and will, take a lot more than one blog post to express all that I, and all of us at Mirror of Justice, are thinking, feeling, hoping, and praying for, and so I will not try here.  For now, I'll simply join my colleagues, and all MOJ readers, in looking forward to his manuscript on religious freedom, in praying for his well being, and in thanking God for his vocation and life.

August 25, 2015 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

"Meeting God as an American"

I enjoyed this review , by David Paul Deavel, of Randy Boyagoda's new book on Fr. Richard John Neuhaus.   Although I appreciate the insights, and the force of some of the critiques -- especially in light of recent events, such as the firestorm surrounding Indiana's religious-freedom law -- of the so-called "radical traditionalists" like my friend and colleague Patrick Deneen, I continue to think that Fr. Neuhaus's basic stance and approach are attractive and compelling:

 Today, many young conservatives of a religious bent seem inclined to view as a mirage Neuhaus’ mediating position between theocracy and secular domination. Most of them are more than ready to damn an America that is simply and without remainder a product of an unadulterated Enlightenment liberalism. They’ve taken to heart Neuhaus’s more radical and despairing laments over Babylon while rejecting his optimism and balanced assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of American institutions and culture. We need more reflection on Neuhaus’s thought, but we also wait for another—doubtless different—Neuhaus, who loves his flawed country enough to fight for it and expects to meet God as an American.

The Neuhaus / First Things project is sometimes caricatured and (I think unfairly) criticized for being insufficiently critical of American actions, laws, culture, premises, etc.  And, to be sure, it's not hard to find Christian "conservatives" who engage in cringe-inducing cheerleading for various things that don't deserve it.  Still -- there are "strengths and weaknesses" and among the strengths is a (bruised and vulnerable) tradition of religious freedom, ordered liberty, and the common good under and through the rule of law.

August 25, 2015 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

The New York Times on abortion and Down Syndrome

It is not news, even if it is unfortunate and damaging to the common good, that the New York Times takes a consistently extremist position on the issue of abortion.  Although it purports regularly to pronounce on the location and content of the "mainstream," the Times is reliably on the fringe both of public opinion and morality when it comes to questions regarding the extent to which unborn children may and should be protected in law.

In this editorial, "Abortion and Down Syndrome," the Times take a position that, notwithstanding the support it might (sadly) enjoy in public opinion, should be deeply chilling and troubling.  In criticizing an Ohio proposal that would restrict abortions based on a diagnosis that the unborn child has Down Syndrome, the Times takes the view that the fact "a majority" (actually, much more than that) of such diagnoses result in abortion, the proposal is for that reason objectionable.  Actually, it is because such diagnoses (and other diagnoses or predictions of disabilities) so often result in the decision that the disabled unborn child should not be permitted to live that the expressive and pedagogical function of the law is so needed on this matter.  The Times piece gives no indication that there is even something to be worried about here; it is completely silent regarding the connection between the attitude that results in extremely high abortion rates for disabled children and the treatment and welfare of those persons with disabilities who were not aborted.

August 25, 2015 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Au Revoir, Mes Amis, Au revoir…


Ten years ago this July I was honored by several founders of the Mirror of Justice with their invitation to participate in this great project dedicated to the development and explanation of Catholic legal theory. A fundamental part of this project for me, and I think for others (be they contributors or readers), is to demonstrate this theory’s relevance to the law and its rule. As I said, I was honored to be invited, and it has been an extraordinary privilege to contribute with colleagues and friends on matters of pressing relevance—and, of course, there was the occasional bit of fun. On some occasions, I have enjoyed immensely the opportunity to exchange views with other contributors. I apologize to any of them who may have construed my desire to encounter them as something other than debate and discussion of matters which we all hold dear. I understand your passion for the arguments you presented; I am certain you acknowledge mine.

Whether we agreed or disagreed on finer points is not especially relevant to today’s posting; it was then and remains my objective to get closer to the heart of what Catholic teaching has to offer the law and our societies for the betterment of everyone so that the common good might be fulfilled and natural justice achieved. In particular, it was, is, and remains my perspective that the uniqueness of Catholic teachings and their relevance to civil law must ultimately concentrate on the nature of the human person and this person’s destiny—be it in this world or one’s ultimate destiny, which is union with God. The Second Vatican Council posed the question: quid est homo (what is man; what is the human person)? This statement and the question it presents reflect a crucial foundation stone of Catholic teaching and, therefore, have a bearing on what is done to develop Catholic legal theory. Well, that was how I saw and still see things that appear on this website.

But there is another reason why this statement about human nature and destiny is the catalyst for why I write and post today. About three weeks ago, I was informed that my then current chemotherapy had failed. This latest treatment joined its twelve predecessors in the minus rather than the plus column. Failure is not always easy to accept, but with the grace of God it can be. I knew this day would come sooner or later, so, as best I could, I tried to prepare for it with careful thought and sober prayer. With the thought and prayer in place, I concluded that the doctors and I had given it our best to try and control a disease that would eventually be uncontainable. Although my doctors aggressively pursue cancer cure, they know that they must also care for the patient in other ways, one of which is to respect the patient’s informed wishes. This sometimes means that the patient is saying he has had enough treatment that the best medical science can provide, and it is now time for nature and God to take their respective courses. This conclusion that I have made and accepted is not my disposition and vocation alone; they belong to everyone, especially the Christian and those who believe in and pray to God. Miracles can and do happen, but I do not ask for one. As a consequence of my discernment, I am now in palliative/hospice care. This means I receive bi-weekly phereses and blood transfusions at Dana Farber; in addition to these two items, I receive pain management care at my Jesuit infirmary.

In the interim, I soon hope to finish soon a book manuscript on, of all subjects, the Declaration on Religious Liberty and its relevance to the law. When this project is completed, I will ask that the blood transfusions stop. After all, they are only delaying the inevitable. But in the meantime, there is a little work still to be done and many prayers for you and so many others that must be offered. So, borrowing from Pere Jean in the 1987 French film, “Goodbye, children!”, I offer my own Au revoir, mes amis! À bientôt!


RJA sj

August 23, 2015 in Araujo, Robert | Permalink

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Special Olympics Story

You know those stories you always hear about competitors in Special Olympics meets choosing cooperation and helping over competition -- like turning back during a race to help competitors who stumble?  Well, if you wonder whether they're true, here's one I know is true -- it's about a teammate on my son's Special Olympics gymnastics team.  This fellow, Jack Campbell, is an incredibly gifted gymnast, and was chosen to represent the U.S. at the  Special Olympics World Games in L.A. this summer.  Here's the story, from the gymnastics club that sponsors our team:

Jack Campbell, member of the Mini Hops Special Olympics Gymnastics team, returned from World Games Competition in Los Angeles last week adorned with medals and ribbons for his performance in the Artistic Gymnastics competition!  Gymnasts from all over the world competed over four days striving to fulfill the Special Olympic oath: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Jack was both brave and he won! He took home gold in parallel bars and floor; silver in vault; bronze in high bar; fourth in still rings and fifth in pommel horse. That added up to an All Around bronze medal in his Level Two division. It was an impressive showing and the U.S. fans loudly let him know he was a favorite.


But Special Olympics is not just about sports; it is about sportsmanship and friendship. Jack proved once again at the Games that he comes out on top there, too.  As it happened, a Chinese athlete showed up at the World Games only to discover that he had learned an outdated set of routines and did not know the correct ones. What a potential disaster for any athlete who has trained for years to reach the height of the sport! But Jack came to the rescue. Working with the coaches during long practices, Jack taught the routines to his colleague. With this little bit of help from his friends, the Chinese athlete was able to compete and win in a different division. That kind of spirit shines through Jack, in sports and in life, and Mini Hops is proud to welcome him home.


August 20, 2015 in Schiltz, Elizabeth | Permalink