Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Hiding beneath the robes of a tame court?

California's Catholic bishops have run whining to the U.S. Supreme Court; the demonstrated deference the current justices show toward religious claims justifies my adjective in the headline. For these judges, the rights of religious institutions seem to override all other rights.

Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, CA
CalMatters explains the legal claim: 

Nine California Catholic dioceses and archdioceses have asked the nation’s highest court to review their case against a 2019 law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, which created a three-year window for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file legal claims against alleged perpetrators at school, church or elsewhere, regardless of when the alleged abuse occurred. The law also allowed defendants to be sued for a new offense: “cover up” activity. 
In the April 15 petition, which was first reported last week by the Catholic News Agency, lawyers for the Catholic bishops assert the law is unconstitutional because California already gave victims a chance to sue in 2002 — when it opened a one-year portal for sex abuse survivors to file claims with no time limit attached — and because it retroactively adds new liabilities.

The Survivors Network (SNAP) is having none of it:

We are not surprised that Catholic officials in California are fearful of the lawsuits that allow those who have been time-barred from justice access to the courts.  These suits represent transparency and honesty and would make it far more difficult to pretend that their abuse scandal is a thing of the past. Window legislation is allowing thousands of victims of abuse by Catholic clergy, nuns, religious brothers, and laity to come forward and expose these crimes. 
It is our firm belief that many, many more survivors who have been abused in the 1990s or early 2000 have yet to realize the damage done to them and remain silent in their pain. We know that window legislation exposes both predators and the institutions that covered up these horrific crimes. 
We urge the Court to throw out this meritless challenge.... 

BishopAccountability.org collects documentation on the sexual abuse crisis. They currently report 29 U.S. Catholic dioceses and religious orders have filed for bankruptcy protection because of the claims of survivors. The one recent(ish) such filing from California was of the Diocese of Stockton in 2014.

Will the Supremes ensure this is the last such accountability event from California?

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