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.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Smolin on "Children, Mothers, Religious Liberty, and the Mission of the Catholic Church"

Prof. David Smolin (Samford) has a new paper out, which will be of interest to many MOJ readers.  Here is the abstract:

This article addresses, from religious liberty and theological perspectives, two sets of serious errors in the treatment of mothers and children, in which the Catholic Church (and other churches) participated.  These serious errors have created credibility gaps regarding the Church’s mission and societal role in assisting vulnerable children and families. 
 
Hence, much of this article is a theological examination of what went wrong in regard to two now prominent wrongs:  the residential schools for indigenous children in Canada, the United States, and Australia, and the treatment of single mothers and their children in Canada, the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Belgium.   The theological journey is necessary to the religious liberty claims for internal reasons---fidelity to the faith---and for external reasons---credibility to society so that society can see and understand that the church has and is learning from its own mistakes.  
 
The theological examination of these wrongs is framed by a discussion of the 9-0 victory of Catholic Social Services (CSS) in the Fulton v. City of Philadelphia case.   This religious liberty victory upon examination is based on the Supreme Court’s  very positive view of the work of CSS in the foster care system.  Religious liberty in the context of cooperative work between the government and religious agencies ultimately does require that the work of the Church is viewed as fulfilling secular goals of government.   
 
 
 

 

July 17, 2022 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Garnett on "Anti-Catholic Attacks After Dobbs"

I have a short piece up at First Things, here, about the predictable but still tiresome charges that the Supreme Court's Catholic justices are somehow imposing their religious beliefs, or ushering in a theocracy, by voting to (e.g.) undo the Roe and Casey decisions.   I write:

Duly enacted laws do not become unconstitutional religious edicts simply because they are consonant with religious communities’ teachings. The fact that citizens are motivated or inspired by faith does not taint their political activism and participation. A jurist who concludes that the relevant constitutional text permits a controversial question to be decided politically is not issuing an encyclical or reporting a revelation.

The foundational premise of the pro-life position—that is, that every human being should be “protected in law and cared for in life”—is no more “theological” than the commitments behind laws mandating environmental stewardship and prohibiting unjust discrimination or exploitation. The facts about the human person and about human development, not secret knowledge or gnostic mysteries, are the basis of the pro-life case and the warrant for pro-life legislation. Neither bigoted attacks on Catholic justices nor superficial invocations of church-state separation change these facts.

Also, in the piece, I reference a detailed study of the deployment of these charges in the abortion context by our own Prof. John Breen.  Check it out.

June 30, 2022 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

A long awaited win for educational pluralism and religious freedom in Carson v. Makin

Way back in 1996, my wife Nicole Stelle Garnett was a young lawyer with the scrappy crew at the Institute for Justice, and participated in a challenge to the Maine tuitioning program that the Supreme Court just (finally) ruled against today in Carson v. Makin.  (I filed an amicus brief in the case, for Agudath Israel, if I recall.)  I usually don't buy claims about the "arc of history" but, this time, the long journey ended in a good place.  The repair of the Court's education-funding doctrine over the last 20 years has been striking.

I was sorry to see Justice Breyer, in dissent, still beating his drum about the judicial obligation to evaluate state policies with an eye toward managing "strife" and "division."  As I explained (at great length!) here, the "political divisiveness along religious lines" argument in church-state law has always been wrong:

Nearly thirty-five years ago, in Lemon v. Kurtzman, Chief Justice Warren Burger declared that state programs or policies could excessive(ly) - and, therefore, unconstitutionally - entangle government and religion, not only by requiring or allowing intrusive public monitoring of religious institutions and activities, but also through what he called their divisive political potential. Chief Justice Burger asserted also, and more fundamentally, that political division along religious lines was one of the principal evils against which the First Amendment was intended to protect. And from this Hobbesian premise about the inten(t) animating the First Amendment, he proceeded on the assumption that the Constitution authorizes those charged with its interpretation to protect our normal political process from a particular kind of strife and to purge a particular kind of disagreement from politics and public conversations about how best to achieve the common good. This Article provides a close and critical examination of the argument that observations or predictions of political division along religious lines should supply the content, or inform the interpretation and application, of the Religion Clause. The examination is timely, not only because of the sharp polarization that is said to characterize contemporary politics, but also because of the increasing prominence of this political division argument. The inquiry and analysis that follow have empirical, doctrinal, and normative components: What, exactly, is religiously based social conflict - or, as the Court put it in Lemon, political . . . divisiveness on religious lines? What, exactly, is the relevance of such conflict to the wisdom, morality, or constitutionality of state action? How plausible, and how normatively attractive, are the political-divisiveness argument and the principle it is intended to vindicate? How well do this argument and this principle cohere with the relevant text, history, traditions, and values? And what does the recent resurfacing of this argument in the Religion Clause context reveal and portend about the state and trajectory of First Amendment theory and doctrine more generally? Working through these questions, I am mindful of John Courtney Murray's warning that we should cherish only modest expectations with regard to the solution of the problem of religious pluralism and civic unity, and also of his observations that pluralism (is) the native condition of American society and the unity toward which Americans have aspired is a unity of a limited order. Those who crafted our Constitution believed that both authentic freedom and effective government could be secured through checks and balances, rather than standardization, and by harnessing, rather than homogenizing, the messiness of democracy. It is both misguided and quixotic, then, to employ the First Amendment to smooth out the bumps and divisions that are an unavoidable part of the political life of a diverse and free people.

June 21, 2022 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Sunday, June 19, 2022

"Under Caesar's Sword" Online course

My friend and colleague, Dan Philpott, ran a research project called "Under Caesar's Sword", a collaborative global project that investigated how Christian communities respond when their religious freedom is severely violated.  And, this Fall, he is putting on a six-week, online course on the subject, which should be great.  Click the link to register!

June 19, 2022 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

"Religion and the American Constitutional Experiment" - Order Now and Save

RACE flyer

June 7, 2022 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

"Can We Be Human in Meatspace?"

This review essay, in The New Atlantis, connects nicely with the moral-anthropology theme that has been a part of the Mirror of Justice conversation for nearly two decades (!) now.   Here's the opening:

In thinking about technology, three questions are fundamental. What is technology for? What are we for? And how is our answer to the first question related to our answer to the second?

Since the Enlightenment, we have come to take for granted that there really is no relation, because we cannot publicly agree on what humans are for. We can answer that question only privately. But technology is public, not private. We create it for common use, ostensibly in the service of the common good. If we cannot broadly agree on what we are for, then how can we reason together about what our technology is for?

It appears that we cannot.

It's a long piece, and I cannot do justice to it here.  But again:  We've often observed, and reflected on the observation, that one cannot really "do law" without engaging the question, "what are human persons?"  Certainly, a "Catholic legal theory" must be one that gives priority to this question.

May 3, 2022 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Henry Garnet, S.J., RIP

On this day, in 1606, Henry Garnet, S.J. was hanged near St. Paul's Cathedral in London.  (The crowd reportedly pulled on his legs, during the hanging, so that he would die before the usual disemboweling.)  He was a student of Robert Bellarmine and had been, for some time, the head of the Jesuit mission in England, and he was executed for (in addition, of course, the offense of being a Jesuit in England) failing to reveal his (alleged) knowledge of some details of the "Gunpowder Plot."  (In Macbeth, Shakespeare mocks Garnet, by reference, as the "equivocator.")   Ora pro nobis. 

Father Henry Garnett

May 3, 2022 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Friday, April 29, 2022

Garnett & Graziano on the Kennedy case (and "endorsement")

I have a short piece, coauthored with my student, Joseph Graziano, up at Newsweek, on the Kennedy case (and other things).  A bit:

Both Boston and Bremerton have the constitutional calculus backward. Not only do they not have to exclude religious voices from their halls; under the First Amendment, they may not. Camp Constitution and Coach Kennedy have as much right to witness to their religions as any others have to witness to their ideologies on the streets or up the flagpoles of city halls. In these two cases—Shurtleff v. Boston and Kennedy v. Bremerton School District—the justices should clarify that our Constitution demands that the religious be allowed to participate in public life on the same terms as everyone else, and that, barring actual coercion, free exercise of religious speech should be welcome in the public square.

April 29, 2022 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Friday, April 1, 2022

The Congregation for Catholic Education issues new instruction on Catholic schools

The Pillar has the story, here.  Read the whole thing, but it seems clear that the Congregation is rejecting a notion of Catholic schools according to which they are merely schools like others, but with a sprinkling of religiously themed art or character-focused programming.  At a Catholic school, the "Catholic" must be about more than heritage, tradition, or affiliation; it is about character, charism, mission, and "identity."  And, the relevance to cases in the United States involving the so-called "ministerial exception" (which is neither limited to ministers nor an exception) is clear:

As the document turns to the role of teachers, the congregation lines up behind an argument which has been advanced by several American dioceses in recent years which defines all teachers, regardless of subject, as ministers of religion, for the purposes of U.S. law:

“In a Catholic school, in fact, the service of the teacher is an ecclesiastical munus and office,” it says, which they exercise not only by teaching in the classroom but “also bearing witness through their lives, [through which] they allow the Catholic school to realize its formative project to witness.”

The extent to which teaching is described almost as an ecclesiastical vocation is further emphasized by the instruction, which says they must all be “outstanding in correct doctrine and integrity of life,” and requires the “initial and permanent formation of teachers.”

“Following the doctrine of the Church, it is therefore necessary for the school itself to interpret and establish the necessary criteria for the recruitment of teachers,” the instruction says. “This principle applies to all recruitments, including that of administrative personnel. The relevant authority, therefore, is required to inform prospective recruits of the Catholic identity of the school and its implications, as well as of their responsibility to promote that identity.” 

April 1, 2022 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

An Interview with CUA's New President, Peter Kilpatrick

The Catholic University of America has named (my former Notre Dame colleague) Peter Kilpatrick as its next president.  (Kilpatrick will succeed my other former Notre Dame colleague, John Garvey.)  Here, thanks to The Pillar, is an interesting interview with Kilpatrick about (among other things) the nature and importance of a distinctively Catholic university and the challenges that exist to the building and thriving of such an institution.  Here's a bit:

For me, a Catholic university is a unique place of higher learning, where we embrace the fusion — the integration —  of faith and reason, where we celebrate that there is only one truth about the world and about the human person in the world, and that’s that it all flows from God. 

And it's only possible to do that at a university like a Catholic university or another religious university really authentic to its faith principle. 

I think the other important thing about a Catholic university is that you integrate the disciplines because knowledge is not bite-sized pieces. Disciplines, which came about in the late 19th century at the German universities, are not intended to be in isolation. They are intended to be in context of the global society and the society in the culture that you're in. 

And unfortunately, so much of what’s done at many other universities is to silo the disciplines. And that's not what a Catholic university is about. We're about integrating the disciplines and putting it all in context. So my understanding of Catholic universities is that they have this unique role to play integrating faith and reason and integrating the disciplines. 

March 30, 2022 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink