Monday, June 28, 2010

Objection Overruled

As it wraps up its term, earlier today the Supreme Court declined to hear a petition from the Holy See to halt a civil sex-abuse suit in which it was named as a defendant.

Though the Vatican's appeal was based on the normally inviolable foundation of the Holy See's immunity as a sovereign entity, the high court's ruling allows the case to proceed.

Here, the wire brief:
The Vatican wanted the federal courts to throw out the lawsuit that seeks to hold the Roman Catholic Church responsible for moving the Rev. Andrew Ronan from Ireland to Chicago to Portland despite the sex abuse accusations.

Sovereign immunity laws hold that a sovereign state — including the Vatican — is generally immune from lawsuits.

But lower federal courts have ruled in this case that there could be an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act that could affect the Vatican. A judge ruled there was enough of a connection between the Vatican and Ronan for him to be considered a Vatican employee under Oregon law, and that ruling was upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Sacramento.
In keeping with its custom, the SCOTUS requires the assent of four justices for a case to be placed on its docket.

With last year's confirmation of Justice Sonia Sotomayor -- who recently returned to her parochial alma mater in the Bronx -- the nine-member high court now has a historically-high bloc of six Catholics.

PHOTO: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times