Federal Judge Says San Francisco’s Labeling of Catholics as “Hateful” is Constitutional
By John-Henry Westen
SAN FRANCISCO, December 13, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In March of this year the City of San Francisco issued one of the most startling attacks on the Catholic Church coming from a governmental body in the United States in half a century. The governing body of the city of San Francisco - the Board of Supervisors - voted unanimously to approve a resolution blasting the Catholic Church for its opposition to homosexual adoption. That resolution has been deemed “constitutional” by Federal Judge Marily Hall Patel, in a recent ruling which is being appealed by the Thomas More Law Center.
The resolution attacked the teaching of the Catholic Church that homosexual adoption does “violence” to children since they would be placed in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development. The resolution blasted the teaching as “hateful and discriminatory rhetoric (that) is both insulting and callous, and shows a level of insensitivity and ignorance which has seldom been encountered by this Board of Supervisors.’‘
District Judge Patel, a Carter appointee and one time counsel for the National Organization for Women (NOW), ruled that the Board resolution which, in addition to condemning Catholic moral teaching on homosexuality, urged the Archbishop of San Francisco and Catholic Charities of San Francisco to defy Church directives, does not violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is appealing the federal judge’s recent approval of the virulently anti-Catholic resolution.
Robert Muise, the Law Center attorney handling the matter, commented, “Our constitution plainly forbids hostility toward any religion, including the Catholic faith. In total disregard for the Constitution, homosexual activists in positions of authority in San Francisco have abused their authority as government officials and misused the instruments of government to attack the Catholic Church. Their egregious abuse of power now has the backing of a federal judge. This battle, however, is far from over. We are appealing this offensive ruling.”
The Law Center filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and two Catholic residents of San Francisco. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will hear the appeal.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel for the Law Center, observed, “This judge totally ignored or attempted to rationalize the evocative rhetoric and venom of the resolution which are sad reminders of Catholic baiting by the Ku Klux Klan.”
Continued Thompson, “Federal judges across the country are removing passive religious symbols, such as the crèche and the display of the Ten Commandments, from the public square because these innocent symbols supposedly express an official government endorsement of religion in violation of the Establishment Clause. However, when San Francisco passes an overtly, anti-Catholic resolution expressly attacking Church moral teaching and calling on Church leaders to defy Church teaching as a matter of official government policy, a federal judge gives these anti-Catholic bigots a free pass. Unfortunately, this case amply demonstrates the anti-religious bias that pervades our judicial system.”
The Law Center’s lawsuit claimed that the City’s anti-Catholic resolution violated the First Amendment, which “forbids an official purpose to disapprove of a particular religion, religious beliefs, or of religion in general.” The Law Center argued that the “anti-Catholic resolution sends a clear message to Plaintiffs and others who are faithful adherents to the Catholic faith that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community and an accompanying message that those who oppose Catholic religious beliefs, particularly with regard to homosexual unions and adoptions by homosexual partners, are insiders, favored members of the political community.”
In her decision upholding the resolution against the Law Center’s constitutional challenge, the federal judge defended the City by essentially claiming that the Church invited the attack by publicly expressing its teaching on moral issues. In her written opinion, the judge stated, “The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith provoked this debate, indeed may have invited entanglement, by its [doctrinal] statement. This court does not find that our case law requires political bodies to remain silent in the face of this provocation.”