Eduardo Moisés Peñalver
Eduardo Moisés Peñalver is the Allan R. Tessler Dean of the Cornell Law School. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the subjects of property and land use law.
By this author
In the 2012 presidential election, for the first time in American history, two Catholic vice presidential candidates squared off to debate. Despite their shared Catholic faith, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan could hardly possess more sharply divergent social and economic views. In the debate, Biden defended the muscular, New Deal version of Catholic economic teaching, which he described simply as “taking care of those who can’t take care of themselves,” while Ryan touted the job-creating power of lower taxes and less regulation.
Via Rick Garnett. Congratulations to Rick and his co-bloggers.
At MOJ, Rick Garnett has posted some thoughtful remarks on the situation at Eastside Catholic. Although I am inclined to agree with him that (at least for Catholic elementary and secondary schools who do not accept state funding) this is a choice for the Church to make, it seems to me that the Church has left itself the space to make a different choice in these situations.
The fallout continues:
The president of Eastside Catholic School has resigned amid the fallout from her decision to dismiss the school’s vice principal for marrying his gay partner. . .
Her resignation, submitted to the Eastside board of trustees Sunday, was effective immediately, and in an email sent to parents, staff and others on Tuesday evening the school said a search for her replacement will begin right away.
The Seattle Times stays on the story:
Mark Zmuda, 38, a well-liked swim coach who was vice principal of Eastside’s middle and high schools until Dec. 20, said the school’s president told him he could keep his job if he divorced his husband of five months and had a commitment ceremony.
CNBC reports that some in the Catholic donor class are becoming restless with Pope Francis's emphasis on economic justice. That's according to billionaire founder of Home Depot, Ken Langone, who is heading up a $180 million capital campaign for the New York Archdiocese: (HT TPM)
The Seattle Times (which, for some context, endorsed the Republican Rob McKenna for governor in last year's election) has come out with a strong editorial supporting the students at Eastside Catholic who are protesting the dismissal (the school says he resigned, though he denies it) of a popular vice principal after he entered into a same sex marriage:
From my hometown diocese, another gay Catholic school employee (this time an administrator) fired for marrying. And, as in other cases, students have responded by protesting:
From the Washington Post comes this interesting map (HT Mark McKenna) of the dominant religious denominations in different regions. Catholics are blue, Baptists are red and Lutherans are in yellow/orange. The similarities to red state/blue state maps is striking. The other maps (which cover things like religious diversity, nonChristian religions, and religious participation) are equally interesting. Go take a look.
[UPDATE: Here is a link to a good article on the case in American Prospect (HT Rick Garnett). I think it does a nice job of laying out some of the problems with the ACLU's legal theory. Most notably, it's not clear what authority the USCCB directives actually have for Catholic hospitals (as opposed to, say, the "directives" of the local bishop).]
The Times reported today that the ACLU has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a woman who received medical care from Mercy Health Partners, a Catholic hospital in Muskegon County, Michigan. The plaintiff, Tamesha Means, was 18 weeks pregnant when her water broke. She went to Mercy, where she was sent home. According to the complaint (and news reports), when a woman's water breaks so early in the pregnancy, the fetus has almost no chance of survival. Failure to induce labor at that point, the complaint alleges, exposed Means to risk of infection and serious health complications. In fact, Means returned to the hospital the next day bleeding and having painful contractions. She was again sent home. She returned a third time with signs of an infection. As the hospital prepared to send her home a third time, she miscarried. At no point -- apparently -- was she notified that, as a Catholic hospital, Mercy refused to provide certain treatments that would be available at non-Catholic facilities. (Mercy is the only hospital in the county.)
Means alleges that the USCCB is responsible for any excess pain and suffering she experienced as a result of the hospital's failure to offer her the option of terminating her pregnancy or to send her to a non-Catholic facility that would counsel her regarding that option. According to the complaint, the hospital's behavior in this regard was mandated by the USCCB's Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.
If the standard of care Means received fell below the requirements of tort law and if a court agrees that the USCCB is a proper defendant in this case, the USCCB will certainly argue that it is entitled -- as a matter of religious freedom -- to craft directives for Catholic hospitals that are consistent with Catholic teaching about abortion. This claim will run into the counterargument that applying (as a matter of tort law) a different standard of care for Catholic hospitals -- particularly when they are treating non-Catholics and failing to notify them about the ways in which Catholic doctrine might put them at risk -- amounts to government endorsement of religious doctrine, in violation of the Establishment Clause.
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