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Paying The Price For Non-Violence

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Fr. Norman Weslin arrested at Notre Dame

A professor, a priest, and counsel denounce as discriminatory and discreditable Notre Dame’s pressing criminal charges against pro-life demonstrators.

Notre Dame’s support of the prosecution of the pro-life ND88 demonstrators was a major topic of discussion at last June’s annual breakfast meeting of Sycamore Trust at Notre Dame. We now bring to you video clips of highlights of that discussion:

  • Watch Dr. Charles E. Rice dispose of the Administration’s explanation that Notre Dame is simply treating the ND88 as it does all trespassers. Dr. Rice: “They know it’s not true!”
  • Listen to chief defense counsel Tom Dixon (ND ’84, JD ‘93) describe his clients:  priests and nuns, notables like Norma McCorvey (the “Roe” of Roe v. Wade), but mostly just people who “go to Mass every day” who came “because it’s Notre Dame.”
  • Hear the account of co-counsel Tom Brejcha (ND JD’65) of his conversation with Father Jenkins and his rejoinder to Father Jenkins’s observation that, after all, Dr. Martin Luther King went to jail for trespass.
  • Join with Father John Raphael in the hope that this unhappy episode may bring the University to confront the unworthiness of its stance.

In the most recent developments in these prosecutions, the trial judge rejected the University’s effort to block defense counsel from examining a recently dismissed high administration officer, William Kirk, and also denied the University’s request to cross-examine Mr. Kirk (cf., Former Notre Dame Vice-President Grilled and Notre Dame 88 get green light). Mr. Kirk’s deposition has been taken, but the testimony is not publicly available. We have recently recounted the troublesome circumstances surrounding the abrupt dismissal of this long-time officer.

(It appears that defense counsel wanted to find out from Mr. Kirk more about whether these pro-life demonstrators were singled out for arrest and prosecution in contrast to pro-Obama supporters during Commencement and in contrast to pro-gay and anti-military demonstrators in the recent past.)

The prosecution’s attempt to consolidate the cases for trial also failed, so that the prospect is for an extended succession of highly publicized  jury trials.  Trial dates have not yet been set.

Notre Dame’s refusal to request that these prosecutions be dropped continues to bedevil the Administration’s efforts to mitigate the damage caused by the Obama episode (cf., Notre Dame Protesters Win Right and Notre Dame Official Will Testify).  Its pro-life protestations are undercut by its actions.

The Administration’s reasons remain a mystery. As Dr. Rice points out, our discovery that Notre Dame in 2007 declined to prosecute pro-gay and anti-military trespassers wiped out the only explanation that Father Jenkins has offered, namely, that Notre Dame must, and does, treat all trespassers the same.

Other possible reasons that spring to mind do the University no credit.

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