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

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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

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BAD PRESIDENT

Trump Faces Furious State Dept. Revolt for Trashing Career Diplomats on Ukraine: ‘People Are Fed Up’

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According to a report from Politico, Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are facing a massive revolt by longtime staffers at the State Department for continuing to trash U.S. diplomats and members in the foreign service community who refuse to protect the president over his Ukraine misdeeds.

Politico notes, “They’ve been derided as a ‘Deep State,’ slurred as ‘Obama holdovers,’ threatened with draconian budget cuts and told that President Donald Trump doesn’t even need them. Now, America’s diplomats are taking their revenge.”

Describing diplomats and State Department officials who have already spoken with House investigators, Politico reveals that resentment toward the president runs deeper than just anger over his Ukraine troubles.

“Overall, the diplomats’ testimony has bolstered allegations that Trump tried to improperly pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival,” the report states. “But some also used the platform to air long-held grievances over Trump and his aides’ treatment of the State Department’s career staffers, several of whom were demoted or sidelined following attacks by the conservative media.”

According to Laura Kennedy, a former U.S. ambassador who still keeps in touch with former associates at State, “People are fed up, there’s a deep well of resentment that’s just bubbled toward the top.”

According to another source, some lower-level employees are worried their reputations may be sullied by the turmoil going on in Pompeo’s department.

In fact, Pompeo has infuriated the career diplomats with how he is running the department as well as his criticism of well-respected employees.

“State Department employees say they’re furious that he hasn’t publicly supported [former Ukraine Ambassador Marie] Yovanovitch, who testified that the deputy secretary of state, John Sullivan, admitted to her that she’d ‘done nothing wrong’ but was being recalled anyway,” Politico reports. “Pompeo took over the department in April 2018, after morale had sunk unusually low under Trump’s first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. Tillerson had largely sidelined career diplomats and seemed willing to go along with steep budget cuts Trump proposed for the State Department – cuts Congress has repeatedly blocked.”

According to a U.S. diplomat stationed overseas, “People are generally disappointed that Pompeo seems to have abdicated principled leadership in favor of political games.”

“But for now, as the impeachment inquiry leads their colleagues to Capitol Hill, State Department staffers feel like they matter, too. ‘They are sad, tired and scared,’ one former State Department official said, ‘though glad to see colleagues stand up and fulfill their oaths.’” Politico summed up.

You can read more here.

 

Image by U.S. Department of State via Flickr

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IT'S UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Trump Reverses on Illegal Hosting of G-7 at His Own Resort – Blames ‘Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility’

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President Donald Trump late Saturday night finally reversed his decision to host the G-7 at his Doral Miami resort in June of 2020. Ignoring numerous Republican lawmakers, legal experts, and bipartisan condemnation of his unconstitutional and illegal decision the president instead blamed the “Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility.”

Curiously, Trump announced his administration would “begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately.”

But on Thursday Trump’s chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters at a rare White House briefing that the administration had conducted an exhaustive search for the best space to host the G-7 leaders, and fairly decided Trump’s Doral Miami resort was “perfect.”

Earlier: Trump Mocked After Saying He Thought Violating the Constitution and Profiting From G7 Hosting Was ‘Good for Our Country’

Mulvaney went so far as to claim the White House had looked at 12 locations, including two in Utah, but decided on the Doral.

He also preemptively refused to release any emails or other items documenting the search process.

But if an actual search had been conducted, it would make sense to simply announce the 2020 G-7 would be held at the next “best” locale. Instead, Trump announced a new search would be conducted.

Why?

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READ THE CONSTITUTION

Trump Mocked After Saying He Thought Violating the Constitution and Profiting From G7 Hosting Was ‘Good for Our Country’

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‘Bro Tweeted Out an Ad’

After tremendous public and private  bipartisan condemnation of his decision to host the 2020 G-7 at his own Miami resort President Donald Trump Saturday night appeared to be laying the groundwork of reversing the unconstitutional and illegal decision.

In an insane series of tweets the president did what he always does: blamed the media for holding his feet to the fire in accurately reporting the consequences of his actions.

“I thought I was doing something very good for our Country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 Leaders. It is big, grand, on hundreds of acres, next to MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, has tremendous ballrooms & meeting rooms,” Trump tweeted, adding that “each delegation would have its own 50 to 70 unit building. Would set up better than other alternatives. I announced that I would be willing to do it at NO PROFIT or, if legally permissible, at ZERO COST to the USA. But, as usual, the Hostile Media & their Democrat Partners went CRAZY!”

Also going “crazy” are Republicans and legal experts.

Should Trump host the G-7 at any of his properties he would reportedly be violating at least one if not several laws, and the U.S. Constitution.

Many quickly took to Twitter to express their condemnation yet again.

 

 

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