Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

A Glimpse Into the Future

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

As the push for same-sex “marriage” builds in New York, recent news events have allowed us to see into the future, to get an idea of what the world will be like if the definition of marriage is changed.

First, a little background.  In 1996, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by virtually unanimous majorities, and the bill was signed into law by President Clinton.  It defines marriage, for the purposes of federal law, as the union of one man and one woman, and it provides that states will not be required to recognize any other kind of “marriage”, just because other states have changed their definition.

DOMA has been challenged several times in the courts.  Three separate federal courts have upheld it as a proper and reasonable exercise of Congressional authority.  One court has found that it is unconstitutional and lacks a rational foundation.  (That decision, by the way, contains the single most absurd statement ever made by a federal judge — that the difference between same-sex couples and different-sex couples was a “distinction without meaning.”  Some things are so silly that only a federal judge could believe them).  Several state supreme courts — including New York’s — have also upheld the same definition of marriage as is contained in DOMA, holding that the definition has a “rational basis” and is not discriminatory.

That wasn’t good enough for the President, who announced earlier this year that the Justice Department would no longer defend the constitutionality of DOMA.  This,  even though the Justice Department has long held that they have a duty to defend statutes with which they disagree, if there is a reasonable argument to support it.  Apparently, the decisions of multiple federal and state courts are not reasonable enough for this ideologically blinded Administration.

Faced with this dereliction of duty, the leadership of the House of Representatives engaged the services of Paul Clement, a former Solicitor General and a very accomplished Supreme Court advocate, to represent the people of the United States in defending DOMA.

What happened next provides us a clear glimpse into where we are going on this issue.  “Gay rights” groups, seeking to force all opposition to same-sex “marriage” out of the mainstream, began a campaign of intimidation aimed at forcing Mr. Clement’s law firm to withdraw from the case out of fear of negative press, restriction of access to top law schools for recruiting, and loss of clients. Instead of fulfilling their professional responsibilities to their client, the firm buckled — and didn’t even have the guts to admit why they were doing it.  In response, Mr. Clement resigned from the firm and will carry on his defense of DOMA with a new firm.

Interestingly, Mr. Clement’s old firm has given pro bono representation to suspected terrorists incarcerated in Guantanamo, but can’t get up the nerve to defend a duly-enacted statute defending the definition of marriage that has always been understood by our society, and that has been repeatedly upheld against constitutional challenge.

This is a glimpse into the future.  We will be seeing more and more of this kind of “soft persecution” of those who oppose same-sex “marriage” — we will be marginalized, stigmatized, and frozen out of public life and even professional work.  It will be a test of moral courage to see how people respond.

Why “Make Abortion Rare”?

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

On March 8, Catholics from around the state traveled to Albany for the annual “Catholics at the Capitol” day, sponsored by the State Bishops’ Conference.  The purpose of the day is to offer Catholics an opportunity to stand together on the broad range of issues of concern to us — protecting life, strengthening our schools, caring for the poor and sick — and to speak to our state legislators.

One of the issue papers distributed by the Conference was entitled “Making Abortion Rare”.  This document explained our Church’s opposition to the radical Reproductive Health Act, a bill that would lead to an increase in abortion, by placing it beyond any reasonable regulation.  A second issue was our opposition to the Governor’s elimination of all funding for the Maternity and Early Childhood Foundation.  That foundation supports local initiatives and organizations that offer alternatives to abortions, and have helped thousands of women have their babies.

These positions are a practical response to the challenge issued by Archbishop Dolan at his press conference in January about the appalling abortion rate in New York City: “I invite all to come together to make abortion rare, a goal even those who work to expand the abortion license tell us they share.”

Some of our pro-life supporters have expressed discomfort with saying that we wish to “make abortion rare”.  They are worried that this might imply that we are conceding the legality of abortion, and that we have given up our ultimate goal of defending every human life.

This concern is understandable, because people rightly can’t be satisfied with anything short of full protection for the unborn.  I understand this concern, but I believe it is unfounded.

Our ultimate goals in this struggle have never changed.  Nobody has any doubt about the position of the Catholic Church on abortion.  We are absolutely, unalterably, irrevocably opposed to legal abortion, and will never accept the legitimacy of laws that permit it.  We hold steadfastly to building a culture of life in which every life is valued in our society and its laws.

But while we pursue those ultimate goals, we have to take into account the political and cultural situation in which we find ourselves.  Then, relying on the virtue of prudence, we have to mitigate the harm that is being done by legalized abortion, and try to achieve realistically attainable results to advance the culture of life.

This approach was outlined in Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, The Gospel of Life:

The Church well knows that it is difficult to mount an effective legal defense of life in pluralistic democracies, because of the presence of strong cultural currents with differing outlooks. At the same time, certain that moral truth cannot fail to make its presence deeply felt in every conscience, the Church encourages political leaders, starting with those who are Christians, not to give in, but to make those choices which, taking into account what is realistically attainable, will lead to the re- establishment of a just order in the defense and promotion of the value of life. (90)

The challenge to “make abortion rare” is just such an initiative.  It takes into account the political and cultural fact that a complete abrogation of abortion laws is not attainable in our current cultural and legal climate.  It is directed not to people who are already committed to the cause of life.  Instead, it is an appeal to those who consider themselves “pro-choice”, but are uncomfortable with abortion and may be open to work with us on practical measures to reduce it.

In other words, it is an effort to change hearts, to rebuild the foundation for a true culture of life.  As hearts change, laws will follow.

Our vision and our goals will always remain the same.   As the United States Bishops said in their statement, Living the Gospel of Life:

The Gospel of Life must be proclaimed, and human life defended, in all places and all times. The arena for moral responsibility includes not only the halls of government, but the voting booth as well. Laws that permit abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are profoundly unjust, and we should work peacefully and tirelessly to oppose and change them. Because they are unjust they cannot bind citizens in conscience, be supported, acquiesced in, or recognized as valid. Our nation cannot countenance the continued existence in our society of such fundamental violations of human rights. (33)

Not a Joke — A Tragedy

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Earlier this week, there was a televised debate for the candidates for New York’s governorship. Most of the news coverage of the debate centered on the various eccentricities of the minor party candidates.  This was par for the course for a media that scrupulously avoids real issues, and prefers to present politics as a puppet show to entertainment and anesthetize us.

What struck me hard, though, was that one of the minor party candidates, was a woman who used to be a “madam” (i.e., a female pimp), who advocated, among other things, legalizing prostitution.  Now, in some ways it’s a perfect testimony to the debased state of New York politics that an unrepentant pimp can be treated as a semi-serious candidate for governor.  And it would be easy to dismiss her as a joke.

But to me, this is not a joke, and it’s not funny at all.  It’s a disgrace.  There is a movement in the United States and elsewhere to decriminalize prostitution, and a Canadian judge just struck down that entire nation’s anti-prostitution laws.  It seems that the “sex industry” has become a new darling for the politics of sexual “liberation”.

What all this fails to take into account are the horrors of the life of prostitution and human sexual slavery.  A recent article by a psychologist who has worked with prostitutes for fifteen years makes this clear.  (Warning: this article is only for the strong of heart, and there’s some explicit language).

Some of the salient facts:

  • In one study from Holland, where prostitution is legal, 60% of women prostitutes were physically assaulted, 70% were threatened with physical assault, 40% experienced some kind of sexual violence, and 40% had been coerced into prostitution.
  • After legalization in New Zealand, 35% of prostitutes reported having been coerced into the work.
  • 80% of prostitutes in Holland had been trafficked — forced into sexual slavery.  This number had gone up after legalization.
  • In a multi-national study, 68% of prostitutes suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the way they are treated.
  • 90% of women in prostitution report that they want to escape.
  • The dehumanizing impact on the prostitutes is matched by the degrading effect on men who use these children of God for their momentary sexual pleasure.  Studies show that men who frequently use prostitutes are more likely to be aggressive towards other women in their lives.  Virtually every time a man has sex with a prostitute, he is perpetuating a nightmare of rape and trauma.  Obviously, many become infected with sexually transmitted diseases and give them to their unsuspecting spouses.

    Prostitution is a crime that cries out to heaven for protection.  Rather than de-criminalizing it, or treating it as a “choice” or “profession”, we should be calling for rigorous enforcement of law against human sexual slavery and trafficking, and help the prostitutes escape from that life.  Moreover, we should support aggressively prosecuting those who exploit these victims of virtually institutionalized sexual violence — yes, I’m saying that society should arrest and prosecute the men who patronize prostitutes.  Maybe by shaming them and treating them as sexual abusers, we can help to liberate the prostitutes from their life of misery.

    This situation is far from a joke.  Please pray for all those caught in this terrible life.

    Astonishing — A Judge Who Does the Right Thing

    Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

    I have frequently written some strong criticisms of judges who take matters in their own hands, inventing new law out of the penumbras, emanations and miasmas of their own imaginations.  Judges like Justice Blackmun of Roe v. Wade infamy, or the most recent example, Judge Walker, who struck down Proposition 8.

    I like to call them, derisively, our “Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Rulers on the Courts”, to highlight their high-handed disregard of the rule of law, their replacement of their own political views for the plain meaning of statutes or the Constitution, and their establishment of a virtual judicial oligarchy in place of our constitutional republic.  I’m a bit cynical when it comes to judges.

    But all is not hopeless, because occasionally, a judge will actually come along and do what judges are supposed to do.

    Namely, read the law, and interpret its plain meaning.

    And so, we come to a decision handed down today by Judge Royce Lambert of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.  A case was brought before him, challenging the Obama Administration’s much-heralded relaxation of restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.  The basis for the challenge was a law called the Dickey-Wicker Amdendment, after its original sponsors.  This law is passed annually by Congress as part of the budget process, and it bans federal funding for any “research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death.”

    The wily lawyers representing the Administration claimed that their new regulations didn’t violate that law, because they only paid for research after the embryos were destroyed.  In another context, it would be like arguing that the stolen property received by a fence was legitimately his own property, because somebody else had stolen it.

    Now, many creative judges would undoubtedly have bought into the “logic” of that argument, and upheld the Administration’s position.  But not Judge Lambert.  He actually read the law, saw what it meant in its plain language, and discerned the undeniable scientific fact that any research on stem cell lines derived from human embryos necessarily and always relies upon the destruction of a human embryo.  As a result, Judge Lambert logically and sensibly concluded that the Administration’s policy violates the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, and had to be put on hold for further review.

    I would expect that, in the next few days, we will hear and read all the usual denunciations of opponents of embryonic stem cell research as being “anti-science”, even though we all support research with adult stem cells, which is producing cures and therapies virtually every week.  We will also likely read criticisms of the judge for alleged ideological bias — from those who never find a voice to say anything about courts that routinely substitute their opinions for the duly-enacted laws of our land.  No matter what, the struggle to defend the value of human life at its earliest stages — the embryonic stage — will go on.

    But for one day we can take some satisfaction that there is at least one judge who does not hold himself out to be one of our unelected rulers, and who did the right thing.

    Judge Humpty Dumpty Has Ruled

    Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

    In his classic novel, Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll describes a surreal argument between Alice and Humpty Dumpty over the meaning of words.  The dispute culminates in this exchange:

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

    Mr. Dumpty, meet Judge Vaughn Walker of the federal district court in California.

    Judge Walker has just issued his much-anticipated ruling in the legal challenge to California’s Proposition 8.  That ballot initiative, which was passed by a majority of California’s voters in 2008, overturned an earlier judicial decision requiring the recognition of same-sex “marriages”, and amended the state constitution to ensure that only a man-woman marriage would be recognized by law.

    Earlier this year, Judge Walker held a circus-like trial that was widely condemned for his obvious bias, and for the failure of the State of California to defend it’s own constitution.  It hardly comes as a surprise that the judge has now used his Tom Mix Decoder Ring (or is it his Rose-Colored Glasses) to find a right to same-sex “marriage” hidden deeply within the penumbras, umbras, emanations, exhalations and miasmas of the United States Constitution.  Marriage has been re-defined and constitutionalized to mean nothing that it has ever meant before, nothing that it ever could mean.

    To get a sense of the so-called “merits” of the judge’s ruling, only one quote is necessary to ponder:

    “Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage.”

    As George Orwell once said, “There are some ideas so preposterous that only an intellectual could believe them.” Or, it seems, a federal judge.

    From such a premise, Judge Humpty Dumpty, our Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Ruler on the Court, has blithely repudiated democracy, the rule of law, history, tradition, and common sense.

    Erasing the First Amendment

    Thursday, July 8th, 2010

    When we all studied American History and Civics 101 in school, we were taught that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees religious liberty to all.  It ensures that the government cannot interfere with religious belief or practice, nor canthe state reward or punish religious people or groups for their beliefs.  All religions are to be treated equally, with no favoritism or legal restrictions.  It’s to enjoy this specific freedom that the early settlers, and many of our ancestors, came to this country.  It’s part of what makes America great.

    Too bad that the Supreme Court has been on a path to erase the First Amendment to the Constitution.

    This has nothing to do with the issue of prayer in public schools or copies of the Ten Commandments in public buildings.  It has everything to do with marginalizing and penalizing religious practices that are not popular with the current powers that be.

    The first major instance of this came in 1990, in the case of Employment Division v. Smith.  The case involved the denial of unemployment benefits to several Native Americans, pursuant to a rule that denied benefits to anyone who couldn’t pass a drug test.  But the reason they couldn’t pass the test is because they used the drug peyote in their religious practices — much as we use wine at Mass.  They challenged the law, claiming that it would force them to violate their religious beliefs.

    The Supreme Court held that they were properly denied the benefits, because the government is not required under the Constitution to grant exceptions to neutral laws that apply to all people, even if that law imposes a burden on a person’s religious liberty.  In essence, the Court held that the government can require a person to forego their religious practices — to give up their sacraments — in order to qualify for benefits.

    In one decision, the Court essentially gutted the “free exercise” clause of the First Amendment.  The irony is that the majority opinion was by a man whose religion is frequently a subject for attention and comment — the Catholic Justice Scalia.

    The most recent shredding of religious liberty came last week, in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez.  This case arose at a public university law school — an arm of a state government.  The Christian Legal Society, an interfaith group of law students, adoped rules that required all its officers and members to subscribe to a basic tenet of Christian moral teaching — that sexual relations are properly reserved only to a man and woman joined in a marriage.  The school denied the organization recognition because of this provision “discriminated” against personw who are engaged in homosexual acts and relationships. The effect of this was to deny the Christian students access to funding and activites that were open to all other kinds of groups (including, ironically, a “gay and lesbian” association).

    The Supreme Court upheld the denial of recognition to the group, holding that the school could require that all student organizations accept anyone who applies, both as members and as leaders.  In essence, the Court decided that the state government has the power to regulate the identity and message of religious organizations, and can force them to accept people who deny or undermine the integrity of their beliefs.  And, by implication, the Court’s decision means that a religious group cannot be a full participant in the “marketplace of ideas” unless its beliefs conform to current standards of political correctness.  In other words, the government can play favorites among religious groups — granting “equal” access to those it approves, and denying it to those it disapproves.

    So much for the “free exercise” and “free association” rights that are supposedly guaranteed under the First Amendment.

    This decision was written by Justice Ginsburg, but was joined by two Catholic Justices, Kennedy and Sotomayor.  Since this was Justice Sotomayor’s first foray into religious liberty jurisprudence, it does not bode well for how she will rule in future cases.

    There is a movement afoot in America to stigmatize religious people who uphold traditional moral teaching (particularly about homosexuality and other sexual subjects) as bigots who do not have to be tolerated in the public square.  Whether they knew so or not, the Justices of the Supreme Court have advanced that agenda and, in doing so, have reduced the liberties of all.

    Here Comes Another Anti-Life Judicial Ruler, Thanks to Our President.

    Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

    So, the President has nominated yet another Ivy League college/law school product to be one of our Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Rulers on the Supreme Court.  Another person who is committed to a legal regime that has no regard for the protection of unborn human beings.

    Is anyone surprised?

    Remember, this is the same President whose spokesman said, last year:

    Q: Looking back to November of 2007, when he was a candidate, he said that he would not appoint somebody who doesn’t believe in a right to privacy [i.e., the right to abortion]. Does he stand by that now that he’s President?

    MR. GIBBS: Absolutely…. I think he believes that the right to privacy in the case of Roe v. Wade… was settled and was in his mind settled correctly.

    And the same President who said just two weeks ago that he was looking for:

    “somebody who is going to be interpreting our Constitution in a way that takes into account individual rights, and that includes women’s rights. And that’s going to be something that is very important to me…. somebody who believes that women should have the ability to make often very difficult decisions about their own bodies and issues of reproduction.”

    The President, of course, mouths all the usual pieties about not having a “litmus test” for judges, particularly when it comes to abortion.  But try a thought experiment for a second.  Can anyone imagine this President considering the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice who might overturn Roe v. Wade?

    To ask the question is to answer it.  Of course he wouldn’t.  The President is so deeply immersed in anti-life attitudes and beliefs that it would never even occur to him to appoint such a person.  Remember, this is the man who is so incoherent in his legal thinking that he can be 100% pro-abortion in all of his policies and positions, and still say this:

    “I want my Justice to understand that part of the role of the court is to look out for the people who don’t have political power. The people who are on the outside. The people who aren’t represented. The people who don’t have a lot of money; who don’t have connections. That’s the role of the court.”

    Above the main entrance to the Supreme Court building,  where this new nominee will likely rule us for decades, there is an inscription: “Equal Justice Under Law”.

    That statement is a lie, and as long as this President makes appointments to the bench, it will continue to be a lie.

    Misguided “Personhood” Initiatives

    Thursday, May 6th, 2010

    In a number of states, pro-lifers are sponsoring what they call “personhood” initiatives — either legislation or state constitutional amendments that they claim will overturn Roe v. Wade and grant legal protection to the unborn. Unfortunately, this is a well-intentioned but legally and tactically misguided strategy.

    We need to recall the state of the law. The Supreme Court held in Roe v. Wade, and has upheld in every subsequent abortion decision, that an unborn child is not a “person” who is entitled to protection by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and that a woman’s right to an abortion is protected by that same Fourteenth Amendment. Obviously, I believe that this is an awful miscarriage of justice, but that’s the law as it stands.

    Because the federal constitution is the supreme law of the land (see Article VI of the Constitution), the Supreme Court’s rulings on abortion override all state laws or constitutions.  Congress cannot overrule a Supreme Court decision interpreting the Constitution. Nor can a Supreme Court decision interpreting the federal constitution be overruled by state constitutional amendments or legislation. Only a federal constitutional amendment (e.g., the Human Life Amendment) or a subsequent Supreme Court decision can overrule the holding in Roe that an unborn child is not a “person” within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.

    As a result, “personhood” bills like the federal “Sanctity of Human Life Act” or the “Life at Conception Act” simply cannot accomplish what their sponsors desire — they cannot overturn Roe v. Wade by simply defining an unborn child as a “person” under the Fourteenth Amendment.  The same holds true for similar state constitutional amendments that are being proposed around the nation.  I wish it were otherwise, but there it is.

    We also have to consider the state of the judiciary. Some people are proposing these “personhood” initiatives as a way of starting a case that will challenge the Supreme Court to overturn Roe. The problem with this approach is two-fold.

    First, no justice who has ever sat on the Supreme Court has ever given any indication that he or she would hold that an unborn child is a “person” under the Fourteenth Amendment. In fact, only two justices currently on the Court have ever said that they would overrule Roe on any grounds (Justices Scalia and Thomas). Even if we assume (without any factual foundation) that Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito would also vote to overrule Roe, there’s no indication that they would support the “personhood” theory.  In any event it would still not be enough — you need five votes, and there just isn’t another Justice on the Court who would vote to overrule Roe. Second, the result of this strategy will almost certainly make things even worse.  Instead of overturning Roe, a case involving a “personhood” law would likely produce an even stronger Supreme Court decision upholding the right to abortion, either by affirming Roe on the non-personhood of the unborn, or (God forbid!) by holding that abortion rights are necessary to ensure women’s equal status in society, based on the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (Justice Ginsburg’s favorite rationale for abortion rights).

    On the whole, I believe that these “personhood” initiatives are a distraction from practical, achievable ways that we can reduce abortions and increase legal protection for the unborn. Parental notification, limits on public funding, and fetal homicide/assault bills are far more profitable ways for the pro-life movement to spend our time. We have to use these kinds of bills to build an authentic pro-life culture, so that a real Human Life Amendment, or a pro-life Supreme Court, becomes politically possible.

    So, while I fully respect the intentions of those who promote “personhood” bills or amendments, I would not endorse or support them, or encourage anyone else to do so.

    Nominees and Code Words

    Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

    The President will soon be announcing his nominee to serve as the next Associate Justice on the Supreme Court, to replace Justice John Paul Stevens, who is retiring at the end of this term.

    Over the past half-century, the Supreme Court has developed into an institution that bears no resemblance to the role originally envisioned by the framers and ratifiers of the United States Constitution.  Rather than being a neutral arbiter of disputes under federal law, it has evolved into board of Platonic Guardians Rulers who undemocratically settle significant policy disputes, all under the guise of interpreting the Constitution.  For a demonstration of this, just take a look at any of the Court’s decisions on “social issues” like abortion or “gay rights”.  In fact, this development has gone so far that some have speculated that we no longer live in a democracy, but in a system where ultimate authority rests not in the people or in their elected representatives, but in unelected, life-tenured judges.

    Given this situation, it is clear that the policy preferences of prospective Supreme Court Justices becomes an appropriate area for inquiry and discussion. After all, if they are going to act as our de facto rulers, perhaps we should get to know them better.

    To that end, I thought it would be useful to look at some of the code words that will be used during the discussion of the new nominee, and especially during the confirmation hearings in the Senate.

  • “Precedent” and “Settled Law” — I have written before about these phrases, which are used by nominees to suggest that they are careful to respect existing law.   In reality, they mean that the nominee can be expected to overturn previous decisions that they don’t agree with, and sustain those they favor.  Or, to be more specific, these phrases mean that the nominee will support the Court’s abominable abortion decisions.
  • “Empathy” — This phrase was used by the President to describe what he was looking for in a nominee — somebody who would be sensitive to how law affects the lives of regular people.  This is a troublesome phrase, since to apply that standard in decision-making would violate a judge’s oath of office, which says: “I, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as Justice of the Supreme Court under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.” (28 U.S.C. section 453)
  • “Women’s Rights” — This phrase has nothing whatsoever to do with the Nineteenth Amendment (which guarantees women’s suffrage) or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (which bans discrimination based on sex).  All it means is that the nominee can be counted on to support the right to destroy unborn human beings in the womb.
  • “Right to Privacy” — This has nothing to do with the Fourth Amendment (which guarantees the security of your person, home and papers from intrusion by the government).  It means that the nominee will support abortion rights.
  • “Right to Choose” — Nobody even pretends anymore that this means anything other than the right to abort unborn children.
  • “Judicial Activist” — As used by those who actually care about what the Constitution says and means, this phrase refers to judges who make up new rights and dress them up in Constitutional language — or those who invent new rights, like the right to abortion, and hide them in nonsense like the “penumbras” and “emanations” from the Bill of Rights (Griswold v. Connecticut), or “the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” (Casey v. Planned Parenthood).  For those who don’t care about what the Constitution says and means, but instead adhere to the more flexible concept of the “living constitution” (i.e., it means whatever the current “wisdom” desires), the phrase is used to attack anyone who might overrule Supreme Court rulings on abortion rights or other social issues, or who might strike down statutes for exceeding the authority granted to Congress in the actual Constitution.
  • The public debate over nominees to the Supreme Court offer us an opportunity to re-assess where we are as a constitutional republic.  The use of code words deflects from that important consideration.  In the upcoming months, as the Senate deliberates over the new nominee, we should be very careful to pierce through the fog to the truth about what the nominee believes, and what the consequences will be if that person becomes our newest Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Ruler on the Supreme Court.

    More Causes for Hope

    Friday, April 16th, 2010

    In these embattled days, it’s all the more important that we look for reasons to hope, and to be optimistic.  Fortunately, God being so good, there have been several such signs thrown my way in recent days.

    First was the special Family Life Conference sponsored by the Respect Life Office.  The theme this year was to honor the legacy of John Cardinal O’Connor, and all that he did to defend and promote the dignity of every human life.  It was a wonderful day, with great speakers — Archbishop Dolan, Helen Alvare, Mother Agnes of the Sisters of Life, and Fr. Charles Connor.  The large crowd was filled with fond memories of the Cardinal, and we were reminded of his indomitable commitment to the cause of life.  Despite all the battles he fought, he never wavered, and never lost his well-founded confidence in the rectitude of our cause.  It was an uplifting day.

    The second event was a pro-life legal symposium at Columbia University last week, sponsored by (believe it or not) the Columbia Law School’s pro-life group.  Yes, you read that correctly — a thriving group of committed pro-life law students at one of the most liberal institutions in the nation.  The line-up of speakers was outstanding — experts in constitutional law, attorneys who were actively litigating pro-life cases in the courts, law professors who are teaching and mentoring the next generation of pro-life legal crusaders. The best part of the day was how dynamic and hope-filled the law students and young attorneys were.  For old warhorses like me, it was a breath of fresh air, and another uplifting experience.  I felt as if the cavalry was on the way.

    The final cause for hope was the most recent Witness for Life — the prayerful vigil that is held outside of the Planned Parenthood abortion mill in lower Manhattan every first Saturday.  After praying outside the clinic in the cold and benediction at Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, we return to the basement of the school for a hot coffee and a doughnut, and a bit of fellowship.  Part of the social is a sharing of stories by some of the participants.  Some of the men in the group shared their experiences in doing the sidewalk counseling — taking for a few moments with the women on their way into the clinic, handing them brochures from the Sisters of Life offering alternatives to abortion, and then talking at greater length with the men who bring the women there and then wait outside.

    One of the sidewalk counselors reported that, after talking to one of the men, the man decided to go back into the clinic to try to convince his friend not to have the abortion.  We all prayed that he would be successful.

    But the most amazing story of all was one told by one of the Sisters of Life assigned to the Visitation Mission, which helps women in crisis to make the decision for life.  Recently, the Sister was called to speak to a young lady who had gone into the same Planned Parenthood clinic that we pray in front of, to make arrangements for an abortion.  While sitting in the examining room, the young lady happened to look at the pamphlet rack, which was filled with all the usual horrible material about contraception, STD’s, etc.

    But what did she find instead?  One of the very same brochures from the Sisters of Life, offering hope instead of abortion, that our sidewalk counselors hand to the women who are going into the clinic — someone must have put it into the pamphlet rack, and the clinic staff hadn’t removed it.  This young lady read the brochure, had a change of heart, left the clinic and went right to see the Sisters.  After talking to them, she made the decision to keep her baby.

    The Holy Spirit is a very inventive fellow, always looking for ways to open our hearts to God’s will and His love.  He works through our memories of great leaders, he buoys our mood by raising up new warriors, and he reminds us of the wonderful mysteries that the world would call coincidences, but which we know as the handiwork of God.  How can we not be hopeful with such an ally?