Pope's Words Used to Challenge Walker's Decision

CCG 9th Circuit Amicus Brief Summary Part 2
Walker Wrong to Make People of Faith "Strangers to the Laws"

SAN FRANCISCO, September 25, 2010 -- One might argue that it would be inappropriate to quote a religious source in an appeal for a court decision that says religion is harmful to gays and lesbians, and people who base their public policy decisions on religious briefs are bigots. However, given that Pope Benedict XVI had addressed on his recent trip to the United Kingdom we believe there could not be a better way of making our point to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

CCG Amicus Brief

Part 1 Summary- 
Prop 8 Voters Rational for Defining Marriage to Recognize Reality

Part 2 Summary -
Religious liberty - Pope's Words Used to Challenge Walker Decision


Entire brief as submitted

Attorney Richard Katerndahl, arguing on behalf of Catholics for the Common Good, made the point that Judge Walker’s radical view of separation of church and state effectively make Christians “strangers to the law”. The brief turned tables on the plaintiffs' argument as he was quoting Supreme Court Justice Kennedy in the Romer v Evans case, the foundation of their argument. In that case the term was used referring to "gays and lesbians."

Romer was about an initiative passed in Colorado to restrict the consequences of the “gay agenda” but it went way too far by essentially prohibiting any legislation that dealt with protections against discrimination of human persons because of their sexual orientation. In finding the law unconstitutional, Justice Kennedy argued that the initiative deemed “class of persons a stranger to its laws” by “making a general announcement that gays and lesbians shall not have any particular protections from the law.” This pointed out the irony that Judge Walker was doing the same thing to Christians and people of other faiths by disregarding any argument advanced by a person of faith.

Footnote from brief:

This is not to say that religiously informed or motivated arguments do not have to be expressed in terms appropriate to policy debates:

Religious as much as secular individuals must translate their personal beliefs into a language that is accessible to all. This is a consequence of political reality as well as an obligation of the virtuous republican legislator. So long as they are put forth in terms and on premises that permit a debate about their general wisdom and usefulness, religiously based arguments that are relevant to resolution of a public policy issue should not be disqualified from participating in the discussion solely because of their religious origin or character.

Frederick Mark Gedicks and Roger Hendrix, Democracy Autonomy and Values: Some Thoughts on Religion and Law in Modern America, 60 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1579, 1616-1617 (1987).

The Supreme Court has held that just because a law "happens to coincide or harmonize with the tenets of some or all religions," it does not violate the First Amendment, which is meant to protect against the establishment of a state religion.That the Judaeo-Christian religions oppose stealing does not mean that a State or the Federal Government may not, consistent with the Establishment Clause, enact laws prohibiting larceny.

The brief pointed out that Walker’s kind of thinking would have a profound effect on the society as Pope Benedict XVI remarked in Edinburgh, Scotland during his state visit to the United Kingdom in September, 2010:

As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a “reductive vision of the person and his destiny” (Caritas in Veritate, 29).

The brief went on to quote the Holy Father’s address the very next day at Westminster Hall in London

Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew: what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend? By appeal to what authority can moral dilemmas be resolved? These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse. If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident - herein lies the real challenge for democracy. …
The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles. . . . Without the corrective supplied by religion, though, reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization.

Religion, in other words, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation. In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalization of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance.



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