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.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Trump Administration Accuses Hospital of Forcing Nurse to Assist in Abortion

The Trump administration is threatening to pull federal funding from a Vermont hospital because of allegations that a nurse was forced to participate in what federal officials said was an abortion procedure, despite her religious objections.

The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) on Wednesday announced it told the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMC) that it had violated the law "by forcing a nurse to assist in an elective abortion procedure over the nurse’s conscience-based objections."

The agency said it has given the hospital 30 days to bring its conscience protection and staffing policies into compliance with federal law, or face the loss of federal funding.

Full story at The Hill

August 30, 2019 | Permalink

Thursday, August 29, 2019

New Chinese Bishop and the New Vatican-China Deal

While many are celebrating the ordination of the first bishop in China since a deal was struck between the Vatican and the Chinese government on bishop appointments last year, some experts have said the event is indicative of neither the terms of the agreement or its success, since the bishop ordained had been selected before the accord was signed.

Read the full article at Crux

August 29, 2019 | Permalink

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

"Some Thoughts for New Law Students"

I have a short piece, posted at Public Discourse, with "some thoughts for new law students."  Comments and reactions welcome!  Here's a taste:

With apologies to Douglas Adams, this is the “meaning of life, the universe, and everything” Layer. Here, we ask not only about the “legislative intent” underlying a particular provision, but also about, for example, “who and what we are, what we were made for, and why it might matter.” Layer Four is where we think about not only the most efficient default rules and the “cheapest cost avoiders,” but also about the nature and destiny of the human person, and the connection between our human nature and the legal enterprise. St. Augustine famously wrote that “you have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.” This is a fact about us. We need to ask, “what differences does this fact make?” What does it mean for the law, and for lawyering, that we have, as C.S. Lewis suggested, a “God-shaped hole”?

We have traveled a long way from learning to report the implications of a fee simple or to recite the Model Penal Code’s hierarchy of culpable mental states. At the end of the day, it all comes down to Layer Four. Whether we realize it or not, this is where “the law” is. Yes, some law schools, teachers, judges, and scholars will insist or pretend otherwise; some will propose that the law in fact is, and must be, “neutral” with respect to Layer Four matters. However, it cannot, and should not, be.

August 27, 2019 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Thomas Farr Gives Perspective on Second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom

RFI President Thomas Farr recently joined The Weekend Answer radio show to offer his perspective on the meaning and significance of last month’s Second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.

The whole point of this [Ministerial] is to build international consensus about what began as a uniquely American idea back in the late 1990s…That is, religious freedom is good for everybody — not just Christians, not just Jews or Muslims, not just religious people — it is good for everybody.

Listen to the full interview here


August 25, 2019 | Permalink

Friday, August 23, 2019

Bishops Welcome Proposed Rule to Protect Rights of Religious Employers

The chairmen of three U.S. bishops’ committees Aug. 21 welcomed a proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Labor aimed at clarifying religious protections that may be invoked by federal contractors, including faith-based organizations.

“Faith-based groups should have the opportunity to compete on a level playing field as they seek to partner with the federal government to provide critical social services,” the bishops said in a statement. “These proposed rules protect religious liberty, a core constitutional right, by clarifying existing religious exemptions consistent with federal law and recent Supreme Court precedent.”

The proposed rule would clarify that religious organizations may make employment decisions “consistent with their sincerely held religious tenets and beliefs without fear of sanction by the federal government,” the Labor Department said in announcing it Aug. 14. The proposal was issued by the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, known as OFCCP.

Full article at Crux

August 23, 2019 | Permalink

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Weigel on the Pell verdict

Over at First Things, George Weigel has these comments about the recent (split) decision affirming the sex-abuse conviction of Cardinal George Pell.  I realize there are those who claim that skepticism about the fairness of the proceedings against Cardinal Pell simply reflects ideological or ecclesiological agreement with him, but this claim is misplaced.  As a former criminal-defense lawyer, and as one who has been teaching Criminal Law for 20 years, I am committed, across the board, to the deeply rooted and foundationally important rule that imposes an exceptionally demanding burden of proof on the government before a criminal conviction.  I do not believe that burden was met here, or that any reasonable, unbiased factfinder could have concluded that it was.  That "something might have happened" or even that "something probably happened" (and, to be clear, I am not saying I believe that either of these is the case here) is not, and should not be, enough, in the criminal context.

August 22, 2019 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Maryland Case Reveals Religious Discrimination in Education

This op-ed by Neal McCluskey of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom details a current form of discrimination in Maryland. As noted in the op-ed:

If government says that you are free to believe in something, but not to act on it, you are not truly free. That reality lies at the heart of a federal lawsuit filed by the Bethel Christian Academy against the state of Maryland, which kicked the academy out of a private school voucher program for having policies consistent with the school’s religious values. Such unequal treatment is unacceptable. 


Immediately at issue are the school’s policies requiring that students and staff behave in ways consistent with the idea of marriage being between a man and a woman, and an individual’s proper gender being the one assigned at birth. The state maintains that those policies are discriminatory against LGBTQ individuals and that allowing public money — school vouchers from the state’s BOOST program — to flow to Bethel Christian is unacceptable.


The state’s position is totally understandable: All people should be treated equally when government is involved. The problem is that the state government is not treating religious people equally – a problem in the public education system not just in Maryland, but in every state in the country.

Religious schools need the ability to act on their religious principles without being cut off from choice programs. More than 482,000 students across the country are exercising private school choice.  As McCluskey points out, the Maryland policy now essentially says that educators and parents may pick a school consistent with their faith, but as a practical matter that faith must be dead.

August 21, 2019 | Permalink

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

USCIRF Commissioner Calls for Release of Religious Prisoner of Conscience

WASHINGTON, DC – United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Commissioner Tenzin Dorjee today called on Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Gulmira Imin, a Uighur Muslim detained in 2009. Ms. Imin was a web administrator for the Uighur-language website Salkin.

“The extreme and unjust sentence imposed on Gulmira Imin foreshadowed the mass internment and other forms of persecution we see today against Uighur Muslims in China,”said Dorjee, who adopted Gulmira Imin in 2018 as part of USCIRF’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project. “The Chinese government used Ms. Imin as a scapegoat for unrest in Xinjiang rather than reflecting upon the role its repressive policies might have had in fueling discontent. We urge China to release Ms. Imin and the other Uighur Muslims that it has detained because of their religious or cultural identity.”



August 20, 2019 | Permalink

Open Rank Faculty Position in Constitutional Studies at Notre Dame

Open Rank Faculty Position in Constitutional Studies

Department of Political Science

University of Notre Dame


The Department of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame invites applications for an open-rank full-time, tenure track/tenured faculty position in Constitutional Studies. The department seeks applications from promising and distinguished scholars with a research focus in American constitutionalism, which includes but is not limited to public law, the history and philosophy of American democracy, and American constitutional development.


The successful candidate will be a member of and offer graduate-level courses in the Department’s Ph.D. subfield in Constitutional Studies and core classes in the University’s undergraduate minor in Constitutional Studies, such as: “American Constitutionalism,” “Constitutional Government & Public Policy,” and “The History and Philosophy of Constitutional Government.”


The successful candidate will also contribute to Notre Dame’s thriving Program in Constitutional Studies, a center of research and teaching devoted to the production of distinguished scholarship and the cultivation of knowledgeable and civically-minded citizens. The Program directs the University’s growing 100+ student minor in Constitutional Studies and sponsors many lectures, seminars, and colloquia each academic year.


Application Instructions

All applicants are required to submit a letter of interest, a C.V., three letters of reference, and a teaching statement which includes a summary of any teaching evaluations available.

Apply by October 1, 2019 at https://apply.interfolio.com/66463



Equal Employment Opportunity Statement

This appointment is contingent upon the successful completion of a background check.  Applicants will be asked to identify all felony convictions and/or pending felony charges.  Felony convictions do not automatically bar an individual from employment.  Each case will be examined separately to determine the appropriateness of employment in the particular position.  Failure to be forthcoming or dishonesty with respect to felony disclosures can result in the disqualification of a candidate.  The full procedure can be viewed at https://facultyhandbook.nd.edu/?id=link-73597.

Equal Opportunity Employment Statement

The University of Notre Dame seeks to attract, develop, and retain the highest quality faculty, staff and administration.  The University is an Equal Opportunity Employer, and is committed to building a culturally diverse workplace.  We strongly encourage applications from female and minority candidates and those candidates attracted to a university with a Catholic identity.  Moreover, Notre Dame prohibits discrimination against veterans or disabled qualified individuals, and requires affirmative action by covered contractors to employ and advance veterans and qualified individuals with disabilities in compliance with 41 CFR 60-741.5(a) and 41 CFR 60-300.5(a).

August 20, 2019 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Monday, August 19, 2019

National Moot Court Competition in Law and Religion at Touro

Thanks to Sam Levine for the tip - more information on the 6th Annual competition at Touro is here.

August 19, 2019 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink