Paul Ryan, Censor Deputatus

 

By Mike Appleton, Weekend Contributor 

I’ll admit that I had no idea who was serving as Chaplain of the House of Representatives until the recent controversy over the forced resignation of Fr. Patrick Conroy, S.J. But if someone had told me only that a Catholic priest had just been fired as House Chaplain, I would have guessed that he was a Jesuit.

The Society of Jesus has been a thorn in the side of princes and popes for centuries. Jesuits have been periodically banned by kings and suppressed by the Church, but they have always returned to continue speaking truth to power, inspired by a rich tradition of Ignatian spirituality and a fierce intellectual independence. My own alma mater, Jesuit High School in El Paso, Texas, occupied a campus built by Mexican Jesuits during a period of anti-clerical political repression in Mexico.

While I was still contemplating the meaning of the termination, the resulting political outcry resulted in Paul Ryan’s capitulation to political reality and Fr. Conroy’s reinstatement. But the question remains: what was behind the request for his resignation? The explanation initially provided, that he was not meeting the “pastoral needs” of  his congressional flock, struck me as contrived. Nor did I buy into the excuse that he was a victim of generalized anti-Catholic attitudes among certain House members. The correct answer, I believe, lies behind Fr. Conroy’s own comments that he had been asked to “stay out of politics” following a prayer before the opening of a House session on the then pending tax overhaul bill. The words of that prayer suggest that Fr. Conroy’s sin was primarily theological.

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Ginsburg (Again) Holds Forth On Politics, Hillary Clinton, and Sexism

225px-ruth_bader_ginsburg_scotus_photo_portraitI have previously criticized Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for her continued political comments in speeches to liberal and academic groups.  While not unique on the Court, Ginsburg is something of recidivist in abandoning the long-standing avoidance of political discussions by justices.  Despite repeated controversies in speaking publicly on political issues, Ginsburg is clearly undeterred.  Ginsburg was back this week holding forth on political issues that justices have historically avoided in maintain the integrity of the Court.  As in her 2017 speech, Ginsburg again repeated her view that sexist voters prevented Hillary Clinton from being elected president.

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Supreme Court Reinstates The Trump Travel Ban In Full Depending Appeal

 court_front_medYesterday, the Trump Administration secured two clear victories after the United States Supreme Court issued two orders lifting the lower court injunctions imposed on the travel ban.  I have written repeatedly on the travel ban (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here) and my view that the case law supported the Trump Administration.  I thought that the appeal that reached the Supreme Court on the second round seemed likely to succeed while the third round was even stronger for the Administration.  The Administration had already secured an order with the Ninth Circuit reversing the trial courts in critical respects.  Now the Supreme Court restored the travel ban in its entirety pending appeal.  The orders issued shortly before appellate arguments on the merits this week is a further indication that the Administration is likely to prevail on the merits.  Indeed, while the orders do not dictate an outcome, they send a strong message to the lower courts on the skepticism of the Court.

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RES IPSA HITS 33,000,000

Audience_Frontier_FiestaWe have hit another milestone today with over 33,000,000 views. We are also expected to reach 35,000 followers on Twitter.  That hardly makes us competition for the largest sites but it is still an impressive collection of people seeking a place for civil but passionate discourse on legal and policy issues  of our time (and perhaps a few wacky stories).  We often use these milestones to look at the current profile of the blog and its supporters around the world.

As always, I want to offer special thanks for our weekend contributors: Mike Appleton, Larry Rafferty, Darren Smith, Kimberly Dienes, and Cara Gallagher (particularly Darren who continues help up with periodic technical problems etc).

I particularly want to thank our regular commentators and readers.  We try to keep this blog as an open forum with as little interference or monitoring of the comments as possible.  Given our free speech orientation, we try not to delete comments and, for that reason, we are deeply appreciative of how most people avoid personal or offensive comments in debating these issues.  We have had to delete a handful of comments with personal attacks or profanity but the number remains quite low for a blog of this size.  The success of this blog is due to the fact that we offer something more than the all-too-common troll-driven, angry, and insulting commentary of the Internet.  Thank you for voluntarily assuming restraint over the tenor and content of your comments. Continue reading

Totenberg: Kagan Appears Smarter and Tougher Than Gorsuch

As many on this blog are aware, I testified in favor of the confirmation of Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch at his Senate hearing. I believe him to be a jurist with a deep commitment to first principles of constitutional interpretation.  It was for that reason that I was taken aback the the dismissive and careless comments on Gorsuch by National Public Radio Legal Affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg.   Totenberg used the Supreme Court podcast “First Mondays” to launch into Gorsuch for what Totenberg described as pedantic and annoying conduct in conferences and oral arguments.  Gorsuch’s colleagues on the Tenth Circuit as well as the broader appellate bench uniformly described him as a collegial, civil, and respectful colleague.

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Court Rules That Menendez Case Will Go To The Jury For A Verdict On Public Corruption

800x-1Senator Robert Menendez and his close friend Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor, are heading to a jury decision after U.S. District Judge William Walls ruled that the indictment against them for public corruption would stand.   Menendez not only stands in considerable jeopardy for his highly questionable relationship with Melgen but his conviction could flip the seat in the Senate since Governor Chris Christie would appoint his successor. ( A new governor will be elected for January).

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Of Cake Shops and Coffee Shops: Recent Controversies Raise The Question Of When Owners Can Refuse Service To Those With Opposing Views

A viral video from a Seattle coffee shop illustrates the growing tension between free speech and religious exercise values.  In the Facebook video, Ben Borgman — the owner of Bedlam Coffee shop — threw a Christian group out of his shop while spewing vulgar and obscene comments about their views.  There are a growing number of such conflicts as store owners assert their right to refuse to serve those with opposing religious or social values.  On December 5, the Supreme Court will hear the argument in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Rights Commission.  That case will determine if a cake shop owner could refuse to prepare a cake for a same-sex couple on the basis of his opposing religious values.

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