1. High Court Removes Bar On Religious School Aid, By Jess Bravin, The Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2020, Pg. A1

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that states can’t exclude church schools from programs benefiting their private, nonsectarian counterparts, bolstering a conservative drive to expand public support for religious education.

“A State need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by fellow conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.


2. A School Choice Landmark, By The Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2020, Pg. A16, Editorial

Whatever his jurisprudential faults, Chief Justice John Roberts often sides with the angels in disputes over religious liberty. Case in point: In a 5-4 decision Tuesday, the Supreme Court resurrected a Montana scholarship program that was in jeopardy because students used it to attend religious schools.

Kendra Espinoza and other Montana parents can now look toward the fall hopeful that the scholarships they relied on will return. As states with Blaine Amendments consider passing new school-choice programs, they might become more ambitious—and less tentative about direct vouchers.


3. The real winners: The Supreme Court gives low-income parents a choice in their children’s education., By The Washington Post, July 1, 2020, Pg. A24, Editorial

IT HAS become a ritual that once the Supreme Court hands down a ruling, proclamations are immediately made about winners and losers. So it was with Tuesday’s decision that states may not exclude religious schools from student tuition programs that benefit other private schools. Among those hailed as winners: conservative groups, the Trump administration and religious institutions. Seen as losers were public schools, civil rights groups and teachers unions.

That is a shortsighted handicapping of the court’s landmark Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue decision. The winners were low-income parents who want the best for their children, and their sons and daughters who might benefit from what wealthier families take for granted: choice in selecting an appropriate school.


4. Facing scandal and debt, Pope shifts into high gear on financial reform, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, July 1, 2020, Opinion

Maybe there’s no single blueprint for reform, but one time-honored propeller for change often is the intersection of scandal and necessity. That certainly seems to be the case in Pope Francis’s Vatican with regard to finances, where at no time since 2013-14 have reform moves been rolling out so fast and furious as right now.

The latest such development came Tuesday, when the Vatican announced that following a raid on the offices of the Fabbrica di San Pietro, the office that administers St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope has named Italian Archbishop Mario Giordana, a former papal ambassador to Haiti and Slovakia, as “extraordinary commissioner” of the fabbrica with the charge to “update its statutes, shed light on its administration and reorganize its administrative and technical offices.”

What’s driving this flurry of activity?

For one thing, there’s London.

The unfolding scandal has been a massive embarrassment, among other things calling into question the effectiveness of the pope’s reform efforts

For another, there’s the coronavirus.

The analysis presented to the pope and department heads by Guerreo suggests the Vatican’s deficit could balloon by as much as 175 percent this year, reaching almost $160 million, due to declining income from investments and real estate as well as drop-offs in contributions from dioceses around the world as they struggle with their own financial problems.


5. Catholic bishops hail SCOTUS schools decision as blow against ‘anti-Catholicism’, By Catholic News Agency, June 30, 2020, 11:00 AM

Leading U.S. bishops praised the Supreme Court’s ruling on Tuesday that religious schools should not be shut out from state benefits solely because of their faith-based status, calling it a “blow” against an “odious legacy of anti-Catholicism.”

“This decision means that religious persons and organizations can, like everyone else, participate in government programs that are open to all,” Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami of Miami, chair of the U.S. bishops’ religious liberty committee, and the USCCB Catholic education chair Bishop Michael Barber of Oakland said in a joint statement on Tuesday.


6. Espinoza Ends State-Sanctioned Religious Discrimination in Education, By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, National Review, June 30, 2020, 5:05 PM, Opinion

Montana parents like Randi Meyer had something to celebrate Tuesday. In Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the Supreme Court toppled a barrier that for more than a century has handicapped Catholic schools in Montana and other states and discriminated against parents like Randi searching for a better education for their kids.

Montana’s ban on public aid to “sectarian” schools and institutions traces back to a period of intense anti-Catholic animus across the United States in the 19th century.  Many non-Catholics supported barring government funding of Catholic “sectarian” schools at a time when public schools were overwhelmingly and explicitly Protestant. The “state Blaines” mirror House speaker James G. Blaine’s unsuccessful proposal to include a funding ban in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Checked at the federal level, “no aid” language found its way into Montana’s 1884 territorial constitution and the 1889 state constitution. Montana was not alone. Blaine amendments are tucked in the constitutions of more than 25 states. Over time, they’ve been used to bar state funding of all religious schools, not just Catholic schools. Until Tuesday.

Espinoza ends state-sanctioned religious discrimination in education. It gives children from low-income families a better chance to benefit from Catholic schools. As parents like Randi and Scott Meyer attest, Catholic schools are often the only lifeline available for students not well-served by their local public school. By effectively burying the Blaines, the Supreme Court’s decision also empowers states to respond to the danger of Catholic and other private-school closures. This comes none too soon, as Catholic schools across the country are struggling to keep their doors open.

In this week’s Espinoza decision, the Supreme Court removed a great stain on our nation’s history, but what it did for our present and future may be more important. It enhanced the ability of low-income students, such as Randi Meyer’s boys, to attend Catholic schools using government-endorsed private-scholarship funds. A welcome victory for religious freedom, countless American families, and our country’s Catholic schools.

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is legal adviser for The Catholic Association Foundation


7. Supreme Court boosts religious schools seeking public aid, By Devin Dwyer, ABC News, June 30, 2020, 12:47 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday delivered a victory for advocates of school choice, striking down Montana’s exclusion of religious schools from a state scholarship program funded by tax credits.

Religious and legal conservatives celebrated the ruling.

“This decision blots out a great stain on our history and gives today’s low-income students a chance to attend religious schools of their choice using state-endorsed private school scholarship funds,” said Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, legal adviser to The Catholic Association.


8. Supreme Court: Montana Can’t Exclude Religious Schools From Scholarship Program, By Nina Totenberg and Brian Naylor, NPR, June 30, 2020, 10:24 AM

In a major victory for what advocates call the school choice movement, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively killed state constitutional provisions in as many as 38 states that bar taxpayer aid to parochial schools.

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, legal adviser for the Catholic Association, called it “a welcome victory for religious freedom and countless American families,” adding it will give “low-income students a chance to attend religious schools of their choice using state-endorsed private school scholarship funds.”


9. 127 years after his death, James Blaine had another bad day, By George Will, The Washington Post, June 30, 2020, 8:39 PM, Opinion

Roberts’s language will splendidly annoy the annoying teachers unions, which oppose choice programs that dilute the public-school monopoly: Roberts said parents have a constitutionally protected right to direct their children’s “religious upbringing” by sending their children to religious schools.

The court has split many hairs about tangential contacts between government and religious schools. When it held that government can fund religious schools’ textbooks but not maps, a bemused Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1978 wondered: What about atlases, which are books of maps? The good news, especially today, is: Fevers — those of cranky secularists as well as anti-Catholic bigots — burn out.


10. Statues of Saint Junípero Serra deserve to stay, By Salvatore Joseph Cordileone, The Washington Post, June 30, 2020, 3:02 PM, Opinion

Seen through the lens of the present, many heroes of history may seem unworthy of their pedestals. But some, such as Serra, still deserve our esteem.

Father Junípero Serra died a beloved figure, mourned by indigenous people and Spaniards alike: a symbol of reconciliation, of hope and of the profound love he bore toward the people he strove to serve. His life reminds us of a core tenet of the Catholic faith: that the spirit of poverty, service and simplicity is the way to peace.

Salvatore Joseph Cordileone is the archbishop of San Francisco


11. Missouri high court says state must pay Planned Parenthood, By Summer Ballentine, Associated Press, June 30, 2020, 3:25 PM

The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that lawmakers violated the state constitution when they tried to end all government funding of Planned Parenthood.

The 6-1 ruling scraps a provision in a state budget law forbidding Medicaid reimbursements to any Planned Parenthood clinic, even those that don’t provide abortions. That means the state will once again be required to pay Planned Parenthood for preventative health care and family planning for Medicaid patients.


12. Calls for UN probe of China forced birth control on Uighurs, By Associated Press, June 30, 2020, 8:49 PM

Politicians around the world have called for a United Nations probe into a Chinese government birth control campaign targeting largely Muslim minorities in the far western region of Xinjiang, even as Beijing said it treats all ethnicities equally under the law.

The AP found that the Chinese government regularly subjects minority women in Xinjiang to pregnancy checks and forces intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion on hundreds of thousands.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom called for a U.N. and State Department investigation, saying the Chinese government’s birth control campaign “might meet the legal criteria for genocide.”


13. Pope urges US Catholic media to work to overcome racism, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, June 30, 2020, 3:28 PM

Pope Francis is urging Catholic media in the U.S. to work to overcome the “diseases of racism and injustice” in his latest comments about George Floyd’s death in the U.S. and the anti-racism protests that followed.

In a message to a virtual conference of Catholic journalists of North America on Tuesday, Francis said Catholic media must build bridges and dialogue, as well as defend life.

He prayed for journalists to be enlightened by wisdom and understanding and guided by the Holy Spirit to “effectively work to overcome the diseases of racism, injustice and indifference that disfigure the face of our common family.”


14. Supreme Court Upholds Dangerous ‘Precedent’ in Louisiana Abortion Case, By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, National Catholic Register, June 30, 2020, Opinion

Monday’s’ 5-4 decision in June Medical Services v. Russo is a disappointing setback for pro-life advocates and the reasonable regulation of abortion. The health and safety of women should always come before the interests of abortionists and their businesses.

June Medical involved a challenge to Louisiana’s Act 620, a law requiring abortionists in the state to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where they perform the procedure.

The June Medical majority first addressed an important question regarding standing: whether the case could even be brought to federal court in the first place. As in most challenges to abortion regulations, June Medical was brought by abortion businesses and abortionists. Not one woman — not even one “future client” — joined this lawsuit intended to block reasonable health and safety regulation of these abortion businesses. Generally, a person can only go to court to assert his or her own legal rights and interests. A narrow exception to this “standing” rule exists when a third party has a close relationship to the right-holder, or the right-holder is unable to sue and can trust the third party to pursue his or her interests. There is a clear conflict of interest between abortion businesses and abortionists and their clients when it comes to health and safety regulations.

The standing question was hotly debated in briefs and during oral argument, but Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for a court plurality, asserted that Louisiana had waived the standing issue in the lower court.

As to the merits, Justice Breyer — who also authored the majority opinion in Whole Woman’s Health — was joined by justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in his plurality opinion. The Louisiana law, he wrote, is “almost word-for-word identical to Texas’ admitting-privileges law.” Breyer, citing his opinion in Whole Woman’s Health, applied a balancing test that weighs the law’s “asserted benefits against the burdens” it imposes on abortion access.

If there is a silver lining in June Medical, it’s in the thoughtful dissenting opinions. “The majority bills today’s decision as a facsimile of [Whole Woman’s Health] and it’s true they have something in common,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito. “In both, the abortion right recognized in this Court’s decisions is used like a bulldozer to flatten legal rules that stand in the way.” Justice Thomas, for his part, lamented that the June Medical majority “perpetuates its ill-founded abortion jurisprudence by enjoining a perfectly legitimate state law and doing so without justification.” 

In June Medical, the Supreme Court, to its shame, told women seeking abortions that their state government is powerless to protect them from abortionists and clinics whose gross negligence and malfeasance put their lives at risk. How many more vulnerable women will have to suffer the burden of the court’s unfettered abortion jurisprudence?

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is legal adviser for The Catholic Association Foundation


TCA Media Monitoring provides a snapshot from national newspapers and major Catholic press outlets of coverage regarding significant Catholic Church news and current issues with which the Catholic Church is traditionally or prominently engaged. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.
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