Despite Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s long record of judicial activism subverting core Catholic values, the Notre Dame administration assembled half the campus to celebrate her life and career.
NOTRE DAME, IN – At the instance of Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the university last Monday once again celebrated a prominent champion of the right to abortion and same-sex marriage and opponent of religious liberty, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She appeared before a large and appreciative audience in a session moderated by Judge Ann Claire Williams of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Judge Williams, a university trustee, a Catholic and an alumna who has just presided over a same-sex marriage. We consider this surprising episode first.
The September 11 New York Times reported
Michael Robert Jarecki and Chirag Gopal Badlani were married Sept. 10 in Chicago. Judge Ann Claire Williams of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, for whom Mr. Badlani was a law clerk until 2012, officiated at the Chicago Cultural Center.
This public rejection of the Church’s teaching followed Judge Williams’s participation in the Court of Appeals decision declaring same-sex marriage a constitutional right. As Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, the president of the Bishops’ Conference, and fellow bishops declared in reaction to Vice President Biden’s officiating at a same-sex marriage:
When a prominent Catholic politician publicly and voluntarily officiates at a ceremony to solemnize the relationship of two people of the same-sex, confusion arises regarding Catholic teaching on marriage and the corresponding moral obligations of Catholics. What we see is a counter witness, instead of a faithful one founded in the truth.
But this is not all. Judge Williams also participated in the Court of Appeals decision rejecting the religious liberty objection of Wheaton College to the Obama administration’s abortifacient/contraception insurance mandate. The Williams court didn’t dispute Wheaton’s claim that it could not in good conscience participate in this program for providing abortifacients to Wheaton employees. The court simply ruled that Wheaton had to do so anyway.
Notre Dame’s claim in its suit against the mandate is the same as Wheaton’s. Notre Dame has pleaded to the court that it “be permitted to act according to its faith and in ways that articulate the moral standards to which it adheres (Complaint par. 2).” As in the Wheaton case, Judge Williams would presumably reject that plea.
In considering the actions of Notre Dame trustees, it is helpful to recall their fiduciary duty under its statutes to maintain “in perpetuity” Notre Dame’s “Catholic character.”
The Ginsburg Event
Justice Ginsburg appeared before an audience of some 7,500 in the Purcell Pavilion on September 12. She was scheduled to appear before a law school audience earlier in the afternoon. Such an appearance, in an academic setting and with an audience of law students and professionals, is unexceptionable. It is a university acting as a university.
But the featured performance was a different matter. It was altogether congratulatory and celebratory — praise and admiration for Justice Ginsburg and no doubt elation that once again a prominent public figure had visited Notre Dame.
The appearance was a disappointment to anyone who came expecting to hear a substantive address or a rekindling of the political fireworks Justice Ginsburg set off by calling Donald Trump a “faker” and lamenting the fate of the country and the Court under a Trump presidency.
Father Jenkins opened with a laudatory introduction. Then, under comradely questioning by Judge Williams that at one point broke into a musical tribute in song — “Justice Ruth, she speaks the truth!” — Justice Ginsburg related her life story — that of a determined feminist who endured discrimination time after time and finally reached the pinnacle of the legal establishment.
There were, to be sure, some footnotes, e.g., her preference for the active Nancy Drew to the passive Jane (of Jim and Jane); her mother-in-law’s wedding gift of earplugs, which she found use for on the Court; why she prefers to be called “Notorious R.G.B.” rather than “Queen Ruth”; and her standard jest about how there will be enough women on the Court when there are nine. The brief, obviously pre-arranged, question period produced nothing substantial.
In short, the event was by design a light and unalloyed salute to Justice Ginsburg as a professional woman of high achievement whom Notre Dame women especially should admire.
Now consider Justice Ginsburg’s record and then judge whether this did not give scandal.
Justice Ginsburg, a vigorous pro-abortion advocate, has consistently voted against any attempt to limit abortions, from late-term abortions to state health-related regulations. Her position is simple and radical:
The basic thing is that government has no business making that choice for a women.
Her statements include this jaw-dropping apparent throwback to a eugenics of an earlier day:
I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.
Issues with Notre Dame’s Catholic identity have abounded for decades, but more recently with … Notre Dame’s choice to honor pro-abortion and homosexual “marriage” Vice President Joe Biden ….”
Ginsburg’s actions and statements directly conflict with Catholic religious teachings, but Notre Dame has a reputation for going against its own religious mission.
Justice Ginsburg’s vote in favor of same-sex marriage was telegraphed by her controversial officiating at such a marriage in advance of the Supreme Court litigation, an action she reportedly took to “send a message.”
Justice Ginsburg dissented from the Court’s decision upholding the religious liberty right of a store owner to refuse to pay for his employees’ chemically-induced abortions. In her alternative universe, a storeowner who declines to fund his employee’s abortions is “foisting his beliefs” on them.
Plainly, she would not entertain Notre Dame’s religious liberty claim in its similar lawsuit should it come before the Court.
This event was designed to, and did, present Justice Ginsburg as a woman to be admired and emulated. Students got the point:
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is my hero. She is everything I want to be when I grow up.
She’s an inspiring human that makes policy accessible.
For her to accept our invitation here is very impressive.
The sponsorship by the Office of the President, the administration’s repeated reminders to students, Father Jenkins’s laudatory introduction, Judge Williams’s cheerleading, the large and welcoming audience, all conspired to show that Notre Dame was untroubled by Justice Ginsburg’s promotion of abortion and same-sex marriage and hostility toward religious liberty.
This is the stuff of scandal.
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“The Potato: Notre Dame’s Underground News.” We have stumbled upon another organization that reports what official university publications don’t: The Potato. Consult it if, like us, you can’t figure out why Father Jenkins awarded the Laetare Medal to Vice President Biden, or if you’d like to read items like: “Heartwarming: 10 ND Football Players Who Have Never Been Arrested” or “Corey Robinson Runs for Student Body President, Enters Priesthood, Cures Cancer.”
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