Connect with us

Catholic Church Says Federal Court Has No Jurisdiction Over It, Because Religious Freedom

Published

on

It is a case that has never been seen in this country before – and a harbinger of the religious right’s attacks on America yet to come. If you thought Hobby Lobby was extreme, you haven’t seen anything yet.

The St. Vincent de Paul School in Fort Wayne, Indiana is a small Catholic school of about 800 students. In 2012, Emily Herx was an English teacher there, and had been trying for a year to conceive. Like many women, she decided to try in-vitro fertilization, which required her to request some time off. At first, as Mother Jones reports, she was met with what she thought was support from her supervisor. “You are in my prayers.” Not even two weeks later, she was met with a pink slip.

Herx was labeled by one monsignor a “grave, immoral sinner,” merely for trying to have a family.

And so she’s suing the St. Vincent de Paul School and the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese for firing her.

Of course, the school and diocese are arguing “freedom of religion” allows them to hire and fire at will.

But they are also using an argument that has never been tried before, at least in America: Freedom of religion and the First Amendment mean they don’t even have to show up in court. In short, they are arguing the State has no jurisdiction over them, because of the First Amendment.

“[If] the diocese is required to go through a trial,” attorneys for the diocese and school argued, it would “irrevocably” deny Fort Wayne-South Bend the benefits of religious protection. Herx’s attorneys are fighting the appeal.

If they are successful – and yes, this could conceivably go to the Supreme Court – it would mean an entirely separate State exists, in essence, for religious institutions in America. Not only would they be tax-exempt, they would be law-exempt.

“I’ve never seen this before, and I couldn’t find any other cases like it,” Brian Hauss, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Center for Liberty told Mother Jones.

“What the diocese is saying is, ‘We can fire anybody, and we have absolute immunity from even going to trial, as long as we think they’re violating our religion. And to have civil authorities even look into what we’re doing is a violation.’…It’s astonishing,” Hauss adds.

Louise Melling, a deputy legal director at the ACLU, was more critical: “It’s an unusual and extreme argument, to be saying the court doesn’t even have the legal authority to ask whether this was, in fact, sex discrimination. I can’t imagine they would prevail on that. It’s too extreme.”

Than again, Melling says she never would have predicted the recent wave of cases in which religious institutions asserted that they have an expansive right to discriminate. One of those cases was Burwell v. Hobby Lobby—the Supreme Court case that struck down the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act. The ACLU has also seen a climb in the number of Christian schools arguing that Title VII allows them to fire women who undergo IVF or become pregnant outside of marriage, or to fire employees who engage in same-sex relationships. “Hobby Lobby was just one case in this wave,” Melling says.

Conservatives, however, don’t see it as “extreme” at all.

Douglas Laycock, a professor at the University of Virginia Law School, says the diocese’s assertion is a “perfectly sensible argument.” Laycock, who has successfully argued numerous religious liberty cases before the Supreme Court, notes there is precedent for immunizing certain organizations from trial, although not necessarily under Title VII’s religious protections. “I think it’s going to be a hard sell,” he says. “But I don’t know that it’s ‘extreme.'”

Many Americans believe the Hobby Lobby case was extreme as well. 

But as it turns out, Hobby Lobby was just the beginning.

 

Image via Flickr

Continue Reading
Click to comment
 
 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

News

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves Dismisses ‘Real Small, Minor Number’ of Rapes Requiring Abortions

Published

on

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) declined to say on Sunday if he would sign a bill removing abortion exceptions for rape because they only represent a “real small, minor number” of cases.

During an interview on Fox News, host Mike Emmanuel asked Reeves if he would remove the abortion exceptions for rape in Mississippi.

Reeves sidestepped the question by insisting that the bill would never make it through the legislature.

“There’s a lot of effort, particularly in Washington and other places mainly by the Democrats, to try to talk only about the real small, minor number of exceptions that may exist,” he complained. “Over 90% of all abortions that are done in America, some 63 million babies aborted since Roe was wrongly decided in 1973, over 90% of those are elective abortions.”

Reeves argued that the “far-left” should not be talking about “all these exceptions and minor numbers.”

Watch the video below from Fox News.

 

Continue Reading

News

Trump Hinted Jan. 6 Would Be His ‘Last-Ditch’ Attempt to Overturn the Election Results: Filmmaker Alex Holder

Published

on

In an interview with the Guardian’s Hugo Lowell, a British documentary maker who was filming behind-the-scenes footage in Donald Trump’s White House on Jan 6th claimed he knew something bad was about to happen before supporters of the former president stormed the Capitol and sent lawmakers fleeing for their lives.

Alex Holder, whose film crew was on hand and filming Trump and his children Don Jr, Eric and Ivanka on Jan 6th, stated there was a feeling among his people that something momentous was about to happen.

According to Lowell, “Holder was there for it all: three sit-down interviews with Trump, including one at the White House, numerous other interviews with Trump’s adult children, private conversations among top aides and advisers before the election, and around the Capitol itself as it got stormed.” adding, “The access to Trump, and listening to him and his inner circle, led him to suspect that the former president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election would somehow culminate in some event at the Capitol on 6 January.”

Asked about what his feeling was prior to the riot that engulfed the Capitol building, Holder explained, “I wasn’t 100% sure, but it was sort of a feeling, so we prepared for that thing to happen. The reason we thought January 6 was because, in Trump’s mind, the last-ditch effort was to stop the process” of the vote certification by Congress.

RELATED: Man behind J6 documentary needs ‘two armed guards’ due to Trump supporters’ threats: BBC

He elaborated, “That ceremonial process that takes place in Congress on January 6, he felt, was the last time where he could, in his mind, stop the election going to the wrong person, as it were. The rhetoric that was coming out was that the election was rigged, [that] we need to fight.”

According to the Guardian report, Holder has, “testified for about four hours behind closed doors last week about his roughly 100 hours of footage, used for an upcoming documentary titled Unprecedented, and turned over to House investigators the parts demanded in a subpoena compelling his cooperation.”

Lowell added, “Holder said he additionally did a one-to-one interview with then-vice president Mike Pence, including a scene where Pence briefly reviews an email about the 25th amendment – which concerns the removal of a US president – which was privately discussed among senior White House officials in the wake of the Capitol attack.”

You can read more here.

Continue Reading

News

Meadows Allegedly Behind Possible Attempt at Witness Intimidation of Cassidy Hutchinson: Reports

Published

on

Cassidy Hutchinson, the former aide and advisor to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, may be the victim of attempted witness intimidation, and the person who may have attempted to intimidate her may be her former boss.

The Guardian on Friday reports “Hutchinson received at least one message tacitly warning her not to cooperate with the House January 6 select committee from an associate of former chief of staff Mark Meadows.”

That message, according to both CNN and The Guardian, was delivered at the direction of Mark Meadows, according to sources both news outlets cite.

READ MORE: Secret Service Agents Confirm Details Hutchinson Shared About Trump Demanding to Be Taken to US Capitol Jan. 6

One of the messages that the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack posted at the end of Hutchinson’s testimony read: “[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know that he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.”

According to The Guardian, “The redaction was ‘Meadows,’ the sources said.”

READ MORE: Trump Declares Hutchinson ‘Totally Discredited’ as Former Aide Says Someone in His Orbit Tried to Influence Her Testimony

CNN similarly reports: “One of [the] people who may have been trying to influence Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony did so at the behest of former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, according to multiple sources familiar with information gathered by the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection.”

Citing multiple sources CNN reports “the ‘person’ referred to in the message, which was redacted in the version projected on a screen during the hearing, was Meadows.”

Former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi Friday afternoon on MSNBC said there is “no question” that message constitutes “an attempt to intimidate a witness. No question about it,” he stressed.

“When you then add that to the fact that it appears that they provided, her initial attorney to her, Cassidy Hutchinson, you now have a without a doubt, predication to open a federal witness tampering investigation,” Figliuzzi added.

Thursday on Twitter Figliuzzi wrote: “This is witness tampering. Cassidy Hutchinson was the target. They picked the wrong young woman.”

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.