Daily Links, March 27: Loads of courtroom drama
All eyes today are focused on the Supreme Court for Day 2 of arguments over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. So far it appears the justices are split along exactly the same lines as you would expect, with swing voter Justice Anthony Kennedy showing hints that he might be voting against the individual insurance mandate.
This isn't the only court case of interest to Catholics today. Testimony is underway in the Philadelphia trial over the coverup of child sexual abuse by clergy, and Bishop Robert Finn is looking for a judge to dismiss the charges against him for failing to report a priest in possession of child pornography.
And yet another important court case involving the church: In Massachusetts, a federal judge ruled that the USCCB's use of federal funds for its anti-human trafficking program was a violation of the First Amendment's establishment clause because the bishops' refused to include referrals for abortion and contraception to trafficking victims. The judge's ruling argues that the government allowing the USCCB to set the terms of how the federal funds were used amounts to the government favoring particular religious beliefs.
Of course, the USCCB disagrees with the ruling and Sister Mary Ann Walsh said the judge's decision "seem to ignore the right of free expression of one's religious beliefs." In a more technical legal analysis, Notre Dame law professor and church/state expert Rick Garnett called it "the wooliest of wooly-headed reasoning" and points out that the only real losers here are the trafficking victims.
Speaking of "wooly-headed reasoning," New York wants to ban words from standardized tests that could be offensive to some students. In particular, they are worried about offending students' religious beliefs with words like "dinosaurs" (offensive to creationists), "birthday" (not celebrated by Jehovah's Witnesses), and "Halloween" (pagan holiday!). Some of the other concern areas that I have no explanation for: celebrities, rock n' roll music, and "in depth discussions of sports."
Back to legal battles: Catholic lawmakers in Connecticut admit that the death penalty is against the teachings of their church, but they are still going to oppose a bill that would abolish capital punishment.
Elsewhere in Catholicism, Pope Benedict continues his travels, having now arrived in Cuba.
And I know someone would be disappointed if I didn't include at least one Tim Tebow story. Too bad most of them are not very good from either a sports or a religion perspective.