US bishops appeal ruling on constitutionality of federal anti-trafficking grants
April 18, 2012
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has announced that it will appeal a federal judge’s ruling declaring that grants made to the USCCB to assist human-trafficking victims are unconstitutional because the grants represent a government endorsement of Catholicism.
“The Conference has decided, with a great sense of urgency, to appeal the district court decision in ACLU v. Sebelius for two reasons: it is poorly reasoned, and it is dangerous,” said Bishop William Lori, chairman of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Jose Gomez, chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Migration.
“The decision takes restrictive Supreme Court precedents and stretches them, almost beyond recognition, to encompass the facts of our case; and at the same time, the decision all but ignores generous Supreme Court precedents that are squarely on point,” the bishops said. .Justice William O. Douglas famously noted long ago that when the government acts to accommodate religion, ‘it follows the best of our traditions.’ This decision says and does the opposite.”
“Indeed, all faith-based service providers are threatened, because the court’s novel rule severely restricts the ability of government to accommodate any contractor’s religious commitments, Catholic or otherwise,” the bishops added. “The people most in need of human services--the poor, the sick, the marginalized--would suffer the most from such a broad exclusion of faith-based providers from cooperation with government.”
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