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Switch to Forum Live View Catholic Lawyers state US Bishops do not work for the Church?
7 years ago  ::  Jun 02, 2010 - 3:12AM #11
Merope
Posts: 14,591

May 26, 2010 -- 11:33AM, gilg wrote:


Merope,


You are the lawyer, so tell us, do you think the argument will be upheld by the courts?


I don't know how the courts will rule but it seems common sense to see bishops reporting to the pope, they get promoted and appointed by the pope or at least approved by him, and the Pope can excommunicate them or bring them back to the fold as Pope Ratzinger did with the four bishops that were excommunicated but are now back in. In short, the Vatican can't claim that they don't have a direct and indirect influence on how bishops go about their work and what morals they must follow in order to remain bishops in good standing.



Hi, gilg —


Sorry to be late getting back to you :-(


I really don't know how the courts will rule, in part because state laws come into play in these suits and different states have different statutes governing when an employer-employee relationship inheres.  There is also federal law that kicks in, relating to suits against foreign governments; some of this law is (I think) based in specific provisions of the US Constitution.  So it's a complicated issue involving both state and federal law and susceptible of differing results in different states.


Interestingly, there is an abuse case out of Oregon that, at one point, worked its way to the Supreme Court on precisely this issue.  Both the trial court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, in that particular case, that the defendant bishop was an employee of the Vatican, thus permitting the plaintiffs to include the Vatican as a defendant in the lawsuit.  The defendants then filed a motion in the US Supreme Court — at which point, the Court asked Solicitor General Kagan to brief it on the US government's position (if any) on the case.  I'll have to do some more research to see what Kagan found and what the Court did as a result of her findings.  As far as I know, that case has not even gone to trial yet; all of the foregoing has been hashed out in pre-trial proceedings based on the pleadings.


My personal take is that the Vatican announced its new legal 'strategy' because of the Oregon case and possibly because of the Kentucky case (and the employer-employee law of each of those two states).

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7 years ago  ::  Jun 02, 2010 - 9:59AM #12
gilg
Posts: 5,200

Merope,


Thank you for the reply, you are probably right and it will be interesting to see how this plays out.... a related case and this one may impact the Vatican is this one:


The high court said it will allow lawsuits against Mohamed Ali  Samantar to go forward despite his claims of immunity under the Foreign  Sovereign Immunities Act. However, the court warned that the U.S.  District Court will have to decide whether Samantar can access other  claims of immunity that could stop the trial.


The court's decision  could have broad foreign policy implications. Allowing lawsuits against  former foreign officials living in the United States could increase the  likelihood that U.S. officials would be sued in overseas courts. An  increase in the number of U.S. lawsuits dealing with past actions in  foreign countries could also affect the United States' current ties with ..


A federal judge had thrown out the lawsuits  against Samantar, saying he is entitled to diplomatic immunity under the  FSIA. That law says "a foreign state shall be immune from the  jurisdiction" of federal and state courts in most lawsuits. The federal  judge said that protection extends to "an individual acting in his  official capacity on behalf of a foreign state."


The 4th U.S.  Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, saying that immunity does not extend  to individuals, only to foreign states and their agencies.


The  high court upheld that ruling.


"There is nothing to suggest we  should read 'foreign state' ... to include an official acting on behalf  of the foreign state, and much to indicate that this meaning was not  what Congress enacted," said retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, writing  the unanimous judgment for the court. "The text does not foreclose  petitioner's reading, but it supports the view of respondents and the  United States that the Act does not address an official's claim to  immunity."


The court said its decision does not mean that the  lawsuit against Samantar automatically goes forward.


"Whether  petitioner may be entitled to immunity under the common law, and whether  he may have other valid defenses to the grave charges against him, are  matters to be addressed in the first instance by the District Court on  remand," Stevens said.


The case is Samantar v. Yousuf, 08-1555.


www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALe...


 

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7 years ago  ::  Jun 02, 2010 - 1:33PM #13
Merope
Posts: 14,591

Thanks, gilg.  I'll check out that case.


Well, I just found out the government's position in the Oregon case.  I'm on the fly, but the government's brief is written up here on Beliefnet and in greater detail by John Allen in the National Catholic Reporter.


I'd forgotten that this case not only raises the issue of whether a bishop is an employee of the Vatican.  It also raises the issue of whether Benedict can be named as a defendant.  Speaking strictly from a national/government point of view, the pope is the head of state of a foreign government — the State of Vatican City (Stato della Città del Vaticano).  So one big issue in this case is that of suing the head of state of another government.  The US government's brief takes the position that Benedict is immune from suit in this instance.


It looks like both the State Department and the Department of Justice weighed in on the brief, which was filed by the Acting Solicitor General because Kagan has stepped aside from her duties pending the outcome of her nomination to the Court.

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7 years ago  ::  Jun 02, 2010 - 6:07PM #14
gilg
Posts: 5,200

Merope,


Thank for the update, it will be interesting seeing how all this  plays out....


As far as Kagan, I am glad the President nominated a female, but what is this, a Jewish female? For a while I thought being Catholic was a requirement for the job. So now we have a Catholic and Jewish Supreme Court serving a Protestant country. (and two women at the same time) .... I love the irony.

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7 years ago  ::  Jun 03, 2010 - 10:22PM #15
jane2
Posts: 14,295

Jun 2, 2010 -- 6:07PM, gilg wrote:


Merope,


Thank for the update, it will be interesting seeing how all this  plays out....


As far as Kagan, I am glad the President nominated a female, but what is this, a Jewish female? For a while I thought being Catholic was a requirement for the job. So now we have a Catholic and Jewish Supreme Court serving a Protestant country. (and two women at the same time) .... I love the irony.




Gilg


I'd throw half the Catholics off, beginning with Scalia. What a prig. One of my favorite passages in Sister Helen Prejean's book DEATH OF INNOCENTS  is about her scolding Scalia, who hunts and fishes with her brother, in an airport. She is a CSJ from the New Orleans area who preaches against the death penalty. Susan Sarandon played her in DEAD MAN WALKING. Sarandon supports Sister Helen in her crusade. I was thrilled when Sarandon was one of the group of women chosen to carry the Olympic flag in Torino.


We all have our heroes and anti-heroes.


J.




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