Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

  • The Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe v. U.S. Department of the Interior. The arguments come after a Nevada federal district court rejected a claim by the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe that the construction of a geothermal facility would violate their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 
  • In Colorado Springs Fellowship Church v. Williams, the Tenth Circuit rejected a church’s challenge to prison rules that barred it from sending DVDs directly to inmates. 
  • In Dorman v. Chaplain’s Office BSO, the Eleventh Circuit upheld the procedures used by the Broward County, Florida jail, which required inmates to register 45 days in advance in order to participate in Passover services and meals. 
  • In Yu Pride Alliance v. Yeshiva University, a New York state trial court held that New York City’s public accommodation law requires Yeshiva University to officially recognize as a student organization an LGBTQ group, YU Pride Alliance. The court rejected the University’s claim that it is exempt from coverage as a religious corporation incorporated under the education law. 
  • In Petro v. Platkin, a New Jersey state appellate court dismissed constitutional challenges to New Jersey’s Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act. The court, among other things, rejected Plaintiffs’ First Amendment Free Exercise Claim, finding that the statute is a neutral law of general applicability. 
  • In Teliatnikov v. Lithuania, the European Court of Human Rights in a Chamber Judgment held that Lithuania violated Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience, and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights when it refused to grant a Jehovah’s Witness deacon alternative service under civilian control. 

On the Intellectual and Moral Virtues

Dean John Garvey, longtime President of Catholic University of America as well as a noted First Amendment scholar, is retiring this year from his position at CUA. He has this new book, The Virtues (Catholic University of America Press), collecting essays and speeches over the years that reflect on the practical and intellectual virtues. Something particularly interesting is Garvey’s Aristotelian emphasis on habit, and the importance of habituation to the virtues.

An ancient question asks what role moral formation ought to play in education. It leads to such questions as, do intellectual and moral formation belong together? Is it possible to form the mind and neglect the heart? Is it wise? These perennial questions take on new significance today, when education — especially, higher education — has become a defining feature in the lives of young people.

Throughout his more than 40 years in academia, John Garvey has reflected on the relationship between intellectual and moral formation, especially in Catholic higher education. For 12 years as the President of The Catholic University of America, he made the cultivation of moral virtue a central theme on campus, highlighting its significance across all aspects of University culture, from University policy to campus architecture.

During his two decades of presiding at commencement exercises, first as Dean of Boston College Law School and then as President of The Catholic University of America, Garvey made a single virtue the centerpiece of his remarks each year. The Virtues is the fruit of those addresses. More reflective than analytical, its purpose is to invite conversation about what it means to live well.

Following Catholic tradition, The Virtues places the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love at the center of the moral life, and the cardinal virtues — justice, temperance, fortitude, and prudence — with them. Alongside these major virtues, Garvey considers a collection of “little virtues,” habits that assist and accompany us in small but important ways on the path to goodness.

Though he treats each virtue individually, a common thread unites his reflections. “The intellectual life depends on the moral life,” Garvey writes. “Without virtue we cannot sustain the practices necessary for advanced learning. In fact, without virtue, it’s hard to see what the purpose of the university is. Learning begins with love (for the truth). If we don’t have that, it’s hard to know why we would bother with education at all.” The Virtues invites its readers, especially students, to appreciate that the cultivation of virtue is indispensable to success, academic or otherwise, and more importantly, essential to their ultimate aim, a life well lived.