1. Free Speech Wins One, The Court pushes back against a law targeting disfavored ideas. 

By The Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2018, Pg. A16, Review & Outlook

One of the more compelling issues of our time is the assault on traditional free-speech protection in the U.S., a right currently under pressure on many university campuses. On Tuesday the Supreme Court issued an important decision, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, reasserting the inviolability of those speech protections.

Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Clarence Thomas says the law requires the services to advertise abortion, “the very practice that petitioners are devoted to opposing.” The California law, he writes, compelled the services to provide a “government-drafted script” and thus violates their First Amendment rights.

It is also worth noting that something else was going on here beyond whether a state can dictate speech for professional service providers. The California licensing law was written so that it applies only to clinics that are opposed to abortion. In a stirring concurrence, Justice Anthony Kennedy makes clear what is at stake in laws such as California’s that single out ideas or speech with which it disagrees.

He says the law’s specific nature “suggests a real possibility that these individuals were targeted because of their beliefs.” He goes on to note, “The California Legislature included in its official history the congratulatory statement that the Act was part of California’s legacy of ‘forward thinking.’”

In reply, Justice Kennedy writes, “It is forward thinking to begin by reading the First Amendment as ratified in 1791; to understand the history of authoritarian government as the Founders then knew it.” He concludes: “Freedom of speech secures freedom of thought and belief. This law imperils those liberties.”


2. High court backs speech rights of pro-life pregnancy centers. 

By Alex Swoyer and Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, June 27, 2018, Pg. A1

California can’t force pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to promote abortion as a health care option, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, saying the state’s attempt to do so violated the groups’ First Amendment speech rights.

The justices, in a 5-4 ruling, said a 2015 state law requiring the centers to post notices about obtaining an abortion, including state assistance in paying for the procedure, amounted to government-coerced speech.

“The people lose when the government is the one deciding which ideas should prevail,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who signed the main opinion, wrote a concurrence saying the law appeared intended to punish those who held pro-life views.

“It does appear that viewpoint discrimination is inherent in the design and structure of this act. This law is a paradigmatic example of the serious threat presented when government seeks to impose its own message in the place of individual speech, thought, and expression,” Justice Kennedy wrote.

Pro-life advocates applauded the ruling.

“These centers exist to offer women a clear alternative to abortion and the abortion lobby bullied them all the way to the Supreme Court because they could not tolerate authentic choice for women,” said Ashley McGuire, senior fellow at The Catholic Association. “Our First Amendment right to freedom of speech not only protects the right to speak out; it protects the right not to speak.”


3. Pope Francis calls a ‘Hail Mary’ pass on Vatican financial reform. 

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, June 27, 2018

For some time now, Pope Francis’s ambitious attempt at financial reform of the Vatican has seemed like an American football game in which the pope’s team is down late in the fourth quarter, and backed up against its side of the field.

On Tuesday, Francis did what teams in that situation generally do – he called a “Hail Mary” pass, naming a loyal but largely untested ally to take over the Vatican’s main financial center of power. It is, in a real sense, both the most reassuring and also the riskiest move we’ve seen from the pontiff in some time.

The pope tapped Bishop Nunzio Galantino to take over the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), which controls both the Vatican’s vast and significantly under-valued real estate holdings and also its investment portfolio.

So far as anyone knows, Galantino has a spotless personal track record, never having been implicated or ever whispered about in any financial impropriety that might compromise his credibility in his new role. Moreover, his close association with the boss certainly suggests he’ll have the heft to assert his authority.

The great unknown, however, is whether Galantino will have the strength to stand down the forces that are bound to resist real change, because the trash heaps of Vatican history are littered with the carcasses of well-intentioned reformers who turned out to be unable to get the job done.

The truth is, Galantino is a largely untested manager of a small diocese, who then moved into a role at the bishops’ conference that required him to articulate the pope’s line but not really implement it in any administrative or managerial sense.

In other words, from the point of view of the task he’s been asked to take on, there’s not much to go on in assessing whether Galantino is up to the job. That, however, is the point of a Hail Mary pass … and, of course, teams keep running the play because every so often, it actually works.


4. Kurtz, Barron seek to reframe religious freedom debate in positive key. 

By Christopher White, Crux, June 27, 2018

Upon being elected as head of the USCCB’s Committee on Religious Liberty last November, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville Kentucky enlisted Bishop Robert Barron, an auxiliary in Los Angeles, to help revamp the way U.S. Church leaders discuss religious liberty.

In interviews with Crux during the bi-annual meeting of U.S. bishops earlier this month, both Kurtz and Barron outlined the ongoing efforts to change the language used to discuss religious liberty in an effort to rescue it from the culture wars.

In the words of Barron, “we want to talk about religious liberty in a more winsome, positive way.”

“We see religious liberty as the freedom to serve, to give people of faith the public space to do what they do, which is to serve the poor, to reach out to the margins, to do all of these works of mercy, and then to be agents in the public space,” Barron told Crux.

Moreover, says Barron, there is a long tradition within the country – secular America at that, he says – which has long been open to religion even if the individual or institution isn’t religious themselves, and he’d like to see that history reclaimed.

“We need to go back, whether it’s de Tocqueville’s thought or Lincoln or Martin Luther King, and realize there are people who are entering the public space with a religious motivation, so that people can say, ‘hey that’s a great thing-not just for us, but for society, and we want the religious liberty to make that contribution.’”

Going forward, he says, there is a strong need to depolarize concern for religious liberty so that it can be something all Americans, especially Catholics, see as something that they value.


5. Vatican doctrine czar says inter-communion needs ‘universal’ solution. 

By Inés San Martín, Crux, June 27, 2018

Commenting on a recent proposal by German bishops to permit inter-communion for the Protestant spouses of Catholics, the Vatican’s doctrinal czar stressed on Tuesday that the debate doesn’t affect one country but the entire Church, and therefore requires a “universal” solution.

“These questions don’t affect only one county but the entire Church,” said Spanish Cardinal-designate Luis Ladaria. “And that is the pope’s intention.”

“A solution for the entire Church must be reached,” he added, noting that “We are not against ecumenism, no. [But] we have to seek a relation with not only the Protestants but also the Orthodox and the other ecclesial communities, and not only in Germany.


6. Supreme Court NIFLA decision is major victory for pro-life groups and women, vindication for First Amendment. 

By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is a legal adviser for The Catholic Association, Fox News, June 26, 2018

Tuesday’s 5-4 Supreme Court decision overturning a California law that required pro-life pregnancy centers to provide women with information about abortion is a victory for the First Amendment, for women seeking support during their pregnancies, and for the pregnancy centers.

The decision came in the case of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra.

Every year, pregnancy centers across the United States offer a helping hand to thousands of women so that they can confidently choose life for their babies. 

These centers provide women personalized attention and care during and after pregnancy, free of charge. Many offer pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, prenatal education and classes on parenting. They also offer tangible support like maternity and baby clothes, diapers and wipes, and even strollers and car seats to lighten the financial burden of caring for a newborn. 

But the most important service found at a pregnancy center is caring. When walking through the doors of a pregnancy center, women find the kind of care and attention that reinforces their dignity as women and helps them prepare to become mothers.

Rather than celebrate the work of these nonprofit centers, California tried to impede it. Through California’s Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care and Transparency Act – commonly known as the Reproductive FACT Act – the state targeted pro-life pregnancy centers and forced them to direct women towards abortion, the state’s preferred response to an unexpected pregnancy.

The First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech includes the right not to be forced by the government to speak. California’s FACT Act did just that, by requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to promote the state’s family planning programs, which include abortion.

As Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the majority opinion in the NIFLA case, forcefully stated: “California cannot co-opt (pregnancy centers) to deliver its message for it.”  The government can’t force people to promote an idea they oppose, like the notion that abortion is the solution to a challenging pregnancy.  


7. Supreme Court decision on crisis pregnancy centers draws strong reaction from all sides. 

By Ariana Eunjung Cha, The Washington Post, June 26, 2018, 2:52 PM

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that California’s crisis pregnancy centers do not have to post notices or talk to patients about state services regarding abortions. In the 5-4 decision, the conservative majority said a law requiring such communication probably violates free speech rights.

The high court opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, says the state’s requirement may violate the First Amendment because it is antithetical to these centers’ mission to preserve pregnancies.

“The state of California, in a classic example of compelled speech, sought to force nonprofit organizations deeply committed to supporting pregnant women who wish to give birth to advertise the state’s free or low-cost abortions. The court recognized this injustice as what it is: a violation of the First Amendment rights that make America a beacon and an example to the world.”

— Grazie Pozo Christie, policy adviser, The Catholic Association


8. Pro-Life Advocates Celebrate Supreme Court Decision Striking Down Law Forcing Abortion Promotion. 

By Steven Ertelt, LifeNews, June 26, 2018, 11:47 AM

Leading pro-life groups are ecstatic about today’s Supreme Court decision striking down a California pro-abortion law that forces pregnancy centers to promote abortions. A majority on the Supreme Court agreed that it is a violation of free speech for California to force pro-life pregnancy centers to push abortion on their clients when they want to provide abortion alternatives.

“Today’s decision protecting pregnancy centers from having to advertise or refer for abortion reveals the extremism of the abortion industry. These centers exist to offer women a clear alternative to abortion and the abortion lobby bullied them all the way to the Supreme Court because they could not tolerate authentic choice for women. From the start, the case was a free-speech no brainer. Our First Amendment right to freedom of speech not only protects the right to speak out, it protects the right not to speak. Compelled speech is the doing of authoritarian regimes, not free and flourishing democracies. Thankfully, efforts to force pregnancy resource centers to violate their core beliefs have failed and they can continue to serve women and offer them true hope and a chance to flourish.” – Ashley McGuire, Senior Fellow with The Catholic Association.


9. Pope Francis adds four new ‘cardinal bishops’ to the College of Cardinals. 

By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, June 26, 2018

Pope Francis signed a rescript adding four more members to the group of cardinal bishops in the College of Cardinals.

They are: Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, 63, Vatican secretary of state; Argentine Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, 74, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches; Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, 74, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; and Italian Cardinal Fernando Filoni, 72, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

With the new additions, the next top-ranking cardinal bishop who would take on the dean’s duties during a conclave would be Parolin.