Thursday, November 4, 2010

Church, State, and Original Intent, by Donald L. Drakeman

This is a good book.  It describes the evolution of Church-State constitutional doctrine including the debates (or lack of them) during the ratification of the Constitution.  He finds that the "Wall of Separation" theory was not intended by the founders. Rather, the founders had a very accommodationist view.  The Establishment Clause was just that; a prohibition on the government establishing a national church much like the United Kingdom had at the time.  On the flip side, it prohibited the federal government from interfering with the free exercise of religion.  How we got to the place we are in today where the federal government every day interferes with the exercise of religion in prohibiting school prayer, religious displays, and even memorial crosses is the story of this book.  It is a dense read and heavily footnoted.  The author did his homework. For anyone interested in Church-State relations, this book is a must read. 

Pro-life advocates help prevent forced abortion in Austin -- CNA

While it is sometimes hard to describe what the difference is between Catholic lawyers and any other lawyer, you can check out this story where attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), saved a baby's life by obtaining a retraining order preventing a parent from forcing her child to have an abortion.  The Alliance is a Christian organization of lawyers who defend religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and family life.  The organization is not Catholic but they are doing God's work and should be applauded. 

As Catholic lawyers we, too, are called to use our talents in God's service.  We can , of course, make our own living practicing law as any other lawyer might but there should always be room in our practice to have God as our client. 

One of the most satisfying things I have done as a lawyer was to do an adoption for a low-income family.  They were hard-working and God-fearing but lacked the money to hire a proper adoption attorney on short notice.  My client's sister was a crack addict and had had a baby.  Child protective services were two-days away from taking the child from the hospital and placing her in foster care where she would have languished.  I knew next to nothing about adoption but asked a lot of people a lot of questions and was able to accomplish the job.  At the final hearing of adoption, the new mother was there with the child who looked beautiful in a fine white dress.  The judge was compassionate and pleased to be a part of the saving of this child. I was near tears as the judge rendered her final order. 

Cynics may say a lot about the practice of law and much of it is true in today's world.  As Catholic lawyers, we are called to be better than that.  And when you are doing God's work, there are rewards greater than those the world can offer.

National Catholic Register’s 2010 COLLEGE GUIDE

The National Catholic Register just released an expanded version of its annual Catholic Identity College List as a convenient, durable, 192-page book titled The National Catholic Register’s 2010 COLLEGE GUIDE.

This is perhaps best addressed to our pre-law followers who are looking for the right school to attend. This book does not specifically cite law schools but does give insight into the Catholic character of the campus of many universities that have law schools.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Our Cherished Right, Our Solemn Duty -- to Vote Pro-Life

The NY Catholic Bishops produced this document setting forth our responsibilities as citizens in a representative democracy and urging us to vote in accordance with a properly formed conscience.  It is, indeed, our duty to vote and to vote with our consciences.  Many people take that to mean that they need not follow all Catholic teaching when pulling exercising our right to vote.  On the contrary, we are called to fully inform our consciences. 

Where we think we disagree with Church teaching we need listen and think again.  Further, many people claim that since neither party supports all Catholic positions we can vote for anyone with whom we generally agree or for the party that our families have supported for generations.  This ignores the fact that some rights are different from others and are distinguished by the principle of subsidiarity.  For example, some might argue that they can vote for a pro-abortion politician because the politician supports other Catholic principles such as helping the poor or opposition to the death penalty.  The principle of subsidiary argues that support for abortion outweighs any other issue because without life all other rights are moot. 

It is not proper for a Catholic to support a pro-abortion politician.  Vote tomorrow but vote as if your soul depended upon it.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

World Mission Sunday October 24, 2010

This Sunday is World Mission Sunday.  Pope Benedict XVI, in his message proclaiming the day, quoted Sacramentum Caritatis, "The love that we celebrate in the sacrament is not something we can keep to ourselves. By its very nature it demands to be shared with everyone. What the world needs is God's love; it needs to encounter Christ and to believe in him." For this reason the Eucharist is not only the source and summit of the Church's life, but also of her mission: an authentically Eucharistic Church is a missionary Church."

The Pope added that the Church "invites us to become champions of the newness of life made up of authentic relationships in communities founded on the Gospel. In a multiethnic society that is experiencing increasingly disturbing forms of loneliness and indifference, Christians must learn to offer signs of hope and to become universal brethren, cultivating the great ideals that transform history and, without false illusions or useless fears, must strive to make the planet a home for all peoples."

What does this mean for us as lawyers and students.  We have all felt the "call" to be professionals.  The profession of law requires us to be leaders.  Indeed, we are all called to be leaders in our own lives and our professional lives.  The essence of leadership is vision.  The Book of Proverbs says, "Where there is no vision the people perish but he who keeps the law is blessed ." (Proverbs 29:18).  We are to focus on the vision of Christ's sacrifice, the love that it entailed, and the blessings that this love offers mankind. We are called to bring this vision to others through evangelization.

Lawyers are called to ensure that this vision of love is reflected in law by the protection of the least among us; that an unborn child has a right to life, that family life is protected, that children are raised in a culture free from degrading influences, that people are free to express and follow their religious faith in all areas of life.

As Pope Benedict said "Dear friends, on this World Mission Sunday in which the heart's gaze extends to the immense spaces of mission, let us all be protagonists of the Church's commitment to proclaim the Gospel," indeed.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Recent Law Review Articles on Religion -- October 2010

Bertagna, Blake R. The government’s Ten Commandments: Pleasant Grove City v. Summum and the government speech doctrine. 58 Drake L. Rev. 1-65 (2009).

Crist, Terry M. III. Comment. Equally confused: construing RLUIPA’s equal terms provision. 41 Ariz. St. L.J. 1139-1166 (2009).

Luther, Robert III. “Unity through division”: religious liberty and the virtue of pluralism in the context of legislative prayer controversies. 43 Creighton L. Rev. 1-34 (2009).

McCrea, Ronan. Religion as a basis of law in the public order of the European Union. 16 Colum. J. Eur. L. 81-119 (2009/2010).

Ryan, Erin. Federalism at the Cathedral: property rules, liability rules, and inalienability rules in Tenth Amendment infrastructure. 81 U. Colo. L. Rev. 1-95 (2010).

East, Erin N. Comment. I object: the RLUIPA as a model for protecting the conscience rights of religious objectors to same-sex relationships. 59 Emory L.J. 259-309 (2009).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On the Chilean Miners . . . and a 1949 Harvard Law Review Article

Check out this great post by Ashby Jones on the Wall Street Journal Blog.  It relates the Chilean miners (Praise God they have been rescued) to the Harvard Law Review article by Lon Fuller on the differing results obtained when Positive Law and Natural Law are applied to a case of trapped cave explorers (The Case of the Speluncean Explorers).  Fullers article is a classic and repays reading with many a thoughful moment.