1. The Court After Kennedy, The consequential jurist has done the country a favor by retiring. 

By The Wall Street Journal, June 28, 2018, Pg. A16, Review & Outlook

Anthony Kennedy acted in the best interests of the Supreme Court and his own legacy Wednesday by deciding to step down after 30 years as an Associate Justice. The fight to replace him was always going to be titanic, and by retiring on July 31 he gives a Republican President and Senate an opening to nominate and confirm a replacement with the best chance of keeping the Court tethered to the Constitution.

The raw political reality is that Democrats will refuse to confirm any nominee likely to be chosen by Donald Trump if they win Senate control in November.

A Republican nominee also offers the best chance to sustain Justice Kennedy’s legacy, despite the fear and loathing you hear on the left. Democrats are already predicting the demise of abortion rights, the end of gay marriage, and no doubt we’ll be hearing about the revival of Dred Scott before the confirmation hearings on Justice Kennedy’s replacement are over. But that overlooks the entirety of Justice Kennedy’s jurisprudence, which is far richer than the cultural cases like Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Obergefell v. Hodges for which he is celebrated on the left.

As for the Court after Justice Kennedy, we doubt it will overturn his precedents on abortion or gay marriage. Even with a new conservative Justice, Chief Justice Roberts remains a legal and political wild card, and we use those words advisedly. He will certainly not want the Court to overturn the gay marriage case so soon after it was decided, lest it make the Justices seem too political.

As for Roe v. Wade, the abortion case was a legal travesty and should be overturned. But the Court has upheld its core right so many times that the Chief Justice and perhaps even the other conservatives aren’t likely to overrule stare decisis on a 5-4 vote. The likelier judicial path would be to allow the states modestly more room to regulate abortion while preserving the right.

President Trump made an excellent choice in Justice Neil Gorsuch, and the list of judges provided by adviser Leonard Leo and his White House counsel contains stellar names. … The lesson of the Gorsuch selection is that a nominee with impeccable legal credentials and no skeletons can make it through even a sharply divided Senate. Republicans should seize the rare privilege that Justice Kennedy has given them.


2. 2 more Chilean bishops are out as pope cleans house. 

By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, June 28, 2018, 8:41 AM

Pope Francis on Thursday accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, the latest fallout from a sex abuse scandal whose scope and gravity were initially underestimated by the pontiff.

Last month all 31 of Chile’s active bishops offered to quit for collectively failing to protect children from pedophile priests.

The Vatican announced that Francis allowed Rancagua Bishop Alejandro Goic Karmelic and Talca Bishop Horacio del Carmen Valenzuela Abarca to resign, bringing to five the total number of resignations accepted so far.

In the region of the Rancagua diocese, 14 priests have been accused of having had sex with minors. Bishop Goic had served as head of the Chilean church’s child protection commission.


3. Pakistan’s new cardinal says climate in Islamic nation dictates restraint. 

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, June 28, 2018

For all those concerned with a rising tide of anti-Christian persecution around the world, certain things about the nation of Pakistan may seem blindingly obvious: That Shahbaz Bhatti, for instance, should be declared a martyr and saint, and that a death sentence for Asia Bibi should elicit outrage and condemnation.

For anyone who thinks such things are simple matters of black and white, a conversation with Pakistan’s new cardinal is a refreshing reminder of the complexities of the real world.

Cardinal Joseph Coutts, who’ll be inducted later today by Pope Francis into the Church’s most exclusive club, voiced caution on both Bhatti and Bibi in a conversation with me on Tuesday – not really because he has any doubts about the merits of either case, but because he has to live with the consequences of whatever he says or does, and those offering confident commentary from the outside don’t.

Bhatti, the lone Christian minister in Pakistan’s national government, was assassinated in 2011 for his passionate advocacy of minority rights and his opposition to the country’s “blasphemy laws,” which establish criminal penalties, including death, for either insulting the prophet Muhammad or desecrating the Qur’an.

Bibi, an illiterate Catholic mother and farm worker from the Punjab, was sentenced to death by hanging in 2010 for allegedly insulting Muhammad and has been on the country’s death row ever since, as various hearings and appeals have worked their way through the Pakistani legal system.

“He was Catholic, a practicing Catholic, and he wanted to move parliament to do something about the blasphemy law; if not abolish it, then modify it,” said Coutts, the Archbishop of Karachi.

“He started receiving threats, and some friends started telling Shahbaz, you better take these seriously, because these guys don’t hesitate to kill,” Coutts said. “He said, ‘Why? I’m not doing anything wrong? I’m speaking for the truth, why should I run away? Why should I leave the country?’ So he didn’t and he paid for it with his life. He stood for the truth.”

Despite that ringing praise, Coutts stopped short of declaring Bhatti a martyr or saint-in-waiting.

The same restraint ran through his discussion of the Bibi case.

Referring to outsiders who wonder why the bishops or the Catholic establishment in Pakistan hasn’t done more to press for Bibi’s release, Coutts suggested those are lazy judgments born of not having to live with the consequences.

Coutts said he’s not primarily thinking about his personal safety, but also the fallout for the people he serves.

So if Coutts exercises restraint from time to time, it’s not because he’s blind to what minorities and Christians are up against in one of the world’s largest Islamic states, and one of its nuclear powers.

Instead, it’s because he’s trying not to make a bad situation worse – something that Westerners trying to reach judgments about Pakistan and its Christian community might do well to remember.


4. What Lawyers and Advocate Groups Are Saying About Kennedy Calling It Quits, Advocates and lawyers on both sides of the political spectrum found aspects of Kennedy’s record to scorn and to appreciate. 

By C. Ryan Barber, The National Law Journal, June 27, 2018, 5:50 PM

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement has set the stage for perhaps the most consequential Supreme Court nomination in a generation, handing the Trump administration an opportunity to cement the conservative majority at the Marble Palace.

Leonard Leo, outside adviser to President Trump on judicial nominations and as of today on leave from his role as executive vice president of the Federalist Society: “Justice Kennedy is a most dedicated public servant, having served on the high court for over 30 years. He has cared deeply about the relationship between the Constitution and individual liberty, and played a key role in helping to shape the Supreme Court’s conservative jurisprudence in the areas of campaign finance and the First Amendment, gun rights and the Second Amendment, the separation of powers and federalism, and reasonable restrictions on abortion, such as the partial-birth abortion ban. I thank him for his service and for the sacrifices he and his family have made in more than three decades.”

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, legal advisor with The Catholic Association: “With Justice Kennedy’s retirement, we look forward to President Trump’s prompt nomination and the Senate’s swift confirmation to fill the vacancy. The president’s list of potential nominees are all exceptionally qualified and any one of them promise to respect the rule of law and defend the freedoms expressly set forth in the Constitution. President Trump’s judicial appointments have been stellar and we expect no less from his selection to fill this seat on the nation’s highest court.”


5. After CDF letter, German bishops’ next assembly to explore intercommunion. 

By Catholic News Agency, June 27, 2018, 5:02 PM

Following months of controversy, the German bishops’ conference have said they will further explore, in accordance with a letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the topic of whether to allow Protestant spouses of Catholics to receive Communion.

“We would like to offer the Holy Father and the Roman Curia our assistance in this matter,” the permanent council of the German bishops’ conference said June 27. The council added that the topic of intercommunion will be taken up again at the September 2018 autumn plenary assembly of the German bishops’ conference.


6. Pope’s ex-chief of staff says ‘too early’ to judge Vatican reform. 

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

Perhaps Pope Francis’s most powerful aide for the last five years, who will be named a cardinal tomorrow, says it’s still “premature” and “too early” to judge the results of the pontiff’s much-ballyhooed reform of the Vatican.

“It’s still to early to judge the reform,” said Italian Cardinal-designate Angelo Becciu, speaking to reporters on Wednesday.

“Many things have changed, things have been modified in discasteries [a word referring to Vatican departments], but we’re still searching to find the best path,” he said.

The state of Francis’s reform has been questioned lately by observers who note that aside from the consolidation of some pre-existing Vatican departments and the creation of some new ones, there’s been little tangible change in Vatican structures and operations. In the meantime, the Vatican’s traditional centers of power, especially the all-important Secretariat of State, appears to have consolidated its role rather than seeing it diminished or redefined.


7. Abortion-rights bloc to fight after pregnancy center ruling. 

By Kathleen Ronayne, Associated Press, June 27, 2018, 3:07 PM

In effectively knocking down a California law aimed at regulating anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a blow to abortion-rights supporters who saw the law as a crucial step toward beating back the national movement against the procedure.

Democratic-led California became the first state in 2016 to require the centers to provide information about access to birth control and abortion, and it came as Republican-led states ramped up their efforts to thwart abortion rights.

Despite the court’s 5-4 decision Tuesday, abortion-rights advocates pledged to keep fighting what they call “fake health centers,” but their next steps weren’t immediately clear.

California had not been enforcing the law in recent months. The justices sent the case back to lower courts but wrote in the majority opinion that the centers “are likely to succeed” in their constitutional challenge to the portion of the law involving licensed centers.

“California cannot co-opt the licensed facilities to deliver its message for it,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote. He called the requirement for unlicensed centers to post a notice stating they are unlicensed “unjustified and unduly burdensome.”

Abortion-rights groups and California lawmakers said they needed to go through the decision fully before moving forward. A spokeswoman for state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said his office is “closely monitoring our options to determine the best next steps.”

“The state of California and NARAL are just never going to stop protecting the right to choose and expanding it and ensuring that women actually have the full range of voices available to them,” said Amy Everitt, vice president for special projects at abortion-rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America. “How we operationalize that and the very next steps, I’m not sure.”