Thursday, June 17, 2021
A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a Catholic foster care agency in Philadelphia may turn away gay and lesbian couples as clients, a victory for conservatives with the potential to shift the balance between LGBTQ rights and the First Amendment's protection of religious exercise.
In one of the most significant cases before a Supreme Court that has become more conservative in recent years, the justices handed down the most high profile defeat to LGBTQ rights advocates since a 2018 decision absolved a Colorado baker of discrimination for refusing to create a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
Catholic Social Services said its religious views keep it from screening same-sex couples as foster parents. The agency, with a long history of placing foster children, said it shouldn’t be blocked from its work because of those views. Philadelphia countered that all of itsfoster care agencies are required to not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
"It is striking, and telling, that the court's more liberal justices joined the court's decision," said Richard Garnett, director of the University of Notre Dame law school program on church, state and society. "Today's ruling illustrates that respect for religious freedom should not be a partisan, or left-right issue."
June 17, 2021 | Permalink
Thursday, June 10, 2021
The theme of this year’s Review is “Religion’s Role in Overcoming Divides and Strengthening American Democracy.”
BYU’s RFAR will address questions such as "Is it possible for religion to help overcome divides and strengthen democracy in the U.S? Partisan and social divides have rocked the country over the last year; to what extent can or does religion play a role in healing conflict and creating a stable, just democratic society?"
Register today for updates and information. Registration is free.
June 10, 2021 | Permalink
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
In 1948, Justice Stanley Reed pithily proposed that a “[r]ule of law should not be drawn from a figure of speech.” Justice Reed was referring to President Thomas Jefferson’s reference, in an 1802 piece of constituent-service correspondence, to the “wall of separation between church and State” supposedly built by “the whole American people” when the First Amendment to the Constitution was ratified.
Chancellor Howard Gillman and Dean Erwin Chemerinsky insist, in The Religion Clauses, that “Thomas Jefferson got it right” and that “the First Amendment was meant to create a wall that separates church and state.” The better view, though, was expressed in 1985, by then-Justice William Rehnquist, who warned that “[i]t is impossible to build sound constitutional doctrine upon a mistaken understanding of constitutional history, but unfortunately the Establishment Clause has been expressly freighted with Jefferson’s misleading metaphor for nearly 40 years.”
Full book review by Rick Garnett at Law & Liberty: https://lawliberty.org/book-review/gillman-and-chemerinskys-masonic-religion-clauses/
June 8, 2021 | Permalink
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Liberty Initiative will bring together some of the world’s foremost thought leaders on religious freedom at the end of June for the inaugural Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit.
The summit, to be held on Notre Dame’s campus, will stimulate conversations between scholars, advocates, and religious leaders about the future of religious liberty in the United States and around the world.
His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, will deliver a keynote address, followed by a panel on interfaith cooperation with Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Rabbi Dr. Meir Y. Soloveichik of the Congregation Shearith Israel, and Dr. Jacqueline Rivers of the Seymour Institute.
June 2, 2021 | Permalink
Saturday, May 29, 2021
I suppose we knew this was coming, but it's still striking to see:
U.S. President Joe Biden’s proposed 2022 budget omits a ban on federal funding for most abortions that has been part of government spending bills for decades.
The budget, released Friday, makes no mention of the "Hyde Amendment," first passed in 1976, which has been included in federal spending bills since.
When X is publicly funded, a common result is more X.
Friday, May 28, 2021
The Notre Dame Law School Program on Church, State & Society has awarded three fellowships to Notre Dame law students for the summer of 2021. The fellowships are designed to give law students legal experience with religiously affiliated organizations. This year’s fellows are Lizzie Walter, Alec Afarian, and Mary Coleman.
May 28, 2021 | Permalink
A friend sent me a link to this speech, by President Roosevelt, to the National Conference of Catholic Charities in 1933. Here's a bit:
[T]he people of the United States still recognize, and, I believe, recognize with a firmer faith than ever before, that spiritual values count in the long run more than material values. Those people in other lands, and I say this advisedly, those in other lands who have sought by edict or by law to eliminate the right of mankind to believe in God and to practice that belief, have, in every known case, discovered sooner or later that they are tilting in vain against an inherent, essential, undying quality, indeed necessity, of the human race —a quality and a necessity which in every century have proved an essential to permanent progress—and I speak of religion.
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
I've been enjoying a newish journal called Plough Quarterly. The latest edition has (among other things) a really nice essay by Leah Libresco Sargeant called "Let the Body Testify: Whose Body Counts?" Sargeant makes good use of the new book by my colleague, Carter Snead, What It Means to Be Human. Here is Sargeant:
The vulnerability of our bodies is part of what binds us together into a community. In Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, the story begins with the traveler’s suffering when he is beaten and robbed. His need is what calls neighborliness out of the Good Samaritan, who binds the traveler’s wounds, takes him to a refuge, and ensures his continued care.
This story is Christ’s answer to an expert in the law, who asks Jesus to clarify the limits of the Great Commandment. God calls me to love my neighbor as myself, but who, exactly, counts as my neighbor? And, left as the subtext, who doesn’t count? Whom am I allowed to not love?
Here, in the (indispensable) Church Life Journal, is an essay by (the indispensable) John Cavadini, called "Is the Secular University a Contradiction in Terms?". A bit:
Ex Corde does conceive of the university as having utility, but its main usefulness is precisely in its institutional witness to the pursuit of truth as good in itself, and to the vision of the human being whose dignity is reflected in his or her capacity for joy in the truth. It is only useful secondarily, in the practical utility of knowledge acquired or imparted along the way.
That this could be a viable, intellectually coherent enterprise, as noted, implies an institutional commitment to a view of reality where reality is characterized by an intelligibility that is not simply imposed and thus a mere construction and therefore not truth. This means a commitment not simply to truths in the plural, but to truth as transcending all individual truths, namely, to quote Ex Corde again, “the supreme Truth, who is God.” Although Ex Corde is here speaking specifically of Catholic universities, the claim is that this is how the Catholic university fulfills its identity not so much as Catholic, but as a university.
It is a claim about what is essential for a university to provide the cultural service which most makes it useful. It is the precisely institutional dedication to truth as transcendent of particular truths and of their utility, and its concomitant explicit commitment to the idea of God as the Supreme Truth, that permits a Catholic university—or any university—to fulfill and preserve the broadly based humanistic vision that is properly at the heart of a school dedicated to educating in the tradition of the liberal arts. It is this commitment that permits a Catholic university to resist a purely utilitarian view of education and its tag-along reductionist view of human being. In other words, the pursuit of truth for its own sake is in itself a witness to human dignity. One cannot “improve the world” and at the same time violate human dignity, or, as Notre Dame’s mission statement puts it, “a sense of human solidarity and . . . the common good,” explicitly employing language drawn from Catholic Social Teaching and Ex Corde both.