Tag Archives: Constitution

Seeking Justice For All Under The Constitution

Brett Kavanaugh, who was heading toward Senate confirmation at press time, would be one of five Catholic justices on today’s Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh, 53, until recently had been a judge on the Washington D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. If confirmed, he will succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy, also a Catholic, who was often a swing vote in many of the high court’s closely decided decisions.

During the heated question-and-answer exchanges during September’s confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh’s mere use of the phrase “abortion-inducing drugs” was enough to incense abortion advocates. But when all was said and done, the hearings didn’t alter his trajectory.

In introducing Kavanaugh during a White House press event on July 9, President Donald Trump praised him as “a brilliant jurist” with “impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications, and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law.”

A JUDGE WITH GREAT DISTINCTION

“For the last 12 years, he has served as a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — with great distinction — authoring over 300 opinions, which have been widely admired for their skill, insight, and rigorous adherence to the law,” President Trump said.

Kavanaugh has served on the D.C. Circuit Court since being confirmed 53-36 by the Senate in 2006. Prior to that, he clerked for Kennedy and served as a staff secretary and senior associate counsel for President George W. Bush.

Legal commentators have described Kavanaugh as a well-respected federal judge with a philosophy of interpreting the Constitution as it is written.

“He’s a person of the highest intellect, very much in the mode of Neil Gorsuch,” said Robert George, a constitutional scholar and the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, referencing Trump’s first appointment to the Supreme Court.

In a conference call with reporters shortly after the president announced Kavanaugh’s nomination, Marjorie Dannenfelser — Legate and president of the Susan B. Anthony List — welcomed the news as a positive step for the pro-life movement.

“We have a man who’s devoted to interpreting the text of the Constitution as it is written and as it applies to today’s debate,” Dannenfelser said.

WINDOW TO HIS APPROACH

Some of his rulings from the D.C. appellate bench offer a window into Kavanaugh’s approach. In 2017, Kavanaugh dissented from an appeals- court vote to allow an undocumented pregnant 17-year-old in immigration detention to seek an abortion. He said the majority decision represented “a radical extension of the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence.”

In the 2015 case of Priests for Life v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kavanaugh said the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for contraceptive coverage in employee health insurance plans violated the religious freedom of religious nonprofits.

“My judicial philosophy is straightforward,” Kavanaugh said from the White House on July 9. “A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent.”

PRACTICING CATHOLIC

In addition to being a respected conservative jurist, Kavanaugh is also a practicing Catholic who serves meals to the homeless as a volunteer for Catholic Charities and coaches CYO basketball in the Washington, D.C., area.

“I am part of the vibrant Catholic community in the D.C. area. The members of that community disagree about many things, but we are united in our commitment to serve,” Kavanaugh said at the White House.

Kavanaugh is a former altar boy who graduated from the Jesuit-run Georgetown Preparatory School near Washington, D.C. before attending Yale Law School. He has also taught law, primarily at Harvard Law School.

In his White House remarks, Kavanaugh, a married father of two daughters, emphasized that his Catholic high school’s motto was “Men for Others.”

Said Kavanaugh, “I’ve tried to live that creed.”

BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

A Catholic perspective on same-sex ‘marriage’

Several years before he died, Cardinal Francis George remarked: “I expected to die in bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”

Bishop Sam Jacobs

Bishop Sam Jacobs

To some, these words may seem prophetic. Others will not take them seriously. But given the direction our country has taken recently in the area of morality, we may need to reflect on his words over the next few years.

Jesus, when confronted in an attempt to trap and discredit him, was asked the question: “Is it lawful to pay tax to Caesar?” His response was quick and to the point: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but to God what is God’s!” As Catholics, this should be one of the many guiding principles by which we live in the world but not of the world. For us, there is a higher authority than the State. That authority is the source of all authority, even the State’s authority. That authority is God and his moral law.

Another way of saying what Jesus stated was put forth by St. Paul: “I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rom 12:1-2). God’s will must be the foundation of all our decisions, not the will of the State.

As our country moves more to a secular society and those in power seek to neutralize the presence, power or influence of Christians, we’re called to become more resolved in our baptismal and confirmational commitment to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The political momentum is on the side of secular values, not on justice based on the law of God. Our nation’s founding principles were set forth by the Founding Fathers, who were willing to die rather than be denied fundamental, God-given, inalienable rights. Religious tolerance and freedom to live one’s faith were hallmarks of their convictions. Today, little by little, religious freedom has been denied or relegated to one’s private life.

What should Catholic businessmen and women do in the face of this secular interpretation of the Constitution? First, know that in the end Christ will prevail, even if for a period of time his true followers will have to suffer as they have throughout the centuries. Recall the words of Peter to the Sanhedrin: “It is better for us to obey God than man.”

Continue the fight no matter what it takes. Refuse to bow down to the secular pressure of intolerance. This too will cost you dearly. The example of the three men in the Book of Daniel should embolden us. They refused to bow down to the golden statue. They were thrown in a hot furnace. They prayed to God and he saved them.

Next, do not refrain from expressing your legal rights through civil disobedience, done in peace and love. We have the example in scripture of the mother with the seven sons whom she saw executed rather than give in the pagan king’s demands (2 Macc 8).

If your convictions are such that you cannot do business with those who are seeking a same-sex “marriage,” stand firm but without any rancor or condemnation. Remember the words of Peter: “For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish people” (1 Pet 2:15).

You can stand firm knowing that your actions are not a matter of condemnation or judgment, nor of hate or intolerance, but rather a legitimate expression of your religious beliefs and an exercise of legitimate freedom of speech.

We are free to disagree with another’s beliefs and actions. These are guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

“Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing” (1 Pet 3:9).

Finally, we must continue to pray for God’s sovereign intervention in this time of our great need. This is what our ancestors have done throughout the ages. We may not see it in our day, but we believe in the absolute power of God who can do the impossible.

BISHOP SAM JACOBS is Legatus’ international chaplain and the former bishop of the Houma-Thibodeaux Diocese.

Overcoming the darkness

Editor Patrick Novecosky writes that the USA has little time to change course . . .

Patrick Novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

For most people, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to allow Catholic priests contracted by the government to voluntarily minister to our troops, including Sunday Mass during a partial government shutdown.

But that wasn’t the case last month. One priest — Fr. Ray Leonard, a contractor at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia — sued the federal government for access to his base. He did not withdraw the lawsuit after the government ended the shutdown in mid-October.

Contrary to what the mainstream media were saying, 83% of the federal government was still funded and operating during the so-called shutdown. And for two Sundays in early October, President Obama’s Department of Defense prohibited 50 Catholic priests from saying Mass and administering other sacraments at U.S. military facilities across the country. While Catholic priests were barred from military bases — even to voluntarily administer the sacraments — Protestant ministers were unaffected by the shutdown. The government has not explained the discrimination.

By singling out Catholics, military leadership tipped its hand to a deeper vein of contempt for Christians in the U.S. armed services. Christian men and women in uniform are being told to park their beliefs at the door or face the consequences of a military that is rapidly being secularized. But our First Amendment freedoms do not end when we enter the classroom, the courtroom, our business place — nor should they end when we enlist to serve our country in the military.

Legate Chuck LiMandri is helping wage a legal battle to protect Christians in the military. He’s also sounding the alarm, asking Christian civilians to take notice of how men and women of faith are being weeded out of leadership positions. (Click here for a full story on this issue.) There’s a lot at stake here. In his farewell address, George Washington said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” John Adams made it clear that “our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

If Americans want the Republic to continue as we’ve known it — one nation under God — we have very little time to reverse course. We can only expect to maintain our rights and freedoms if we exercise them. We must always remember that knowing and living our faith publicly is the first step. As St. John wrote, we’re called to be “the light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness [will] not overcome it.”

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.