Thank You

Just a quick note thanking Mark and Marc for allowing me to litter their blog with my posts for the month of June.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and hope that at least some of your readership did as well!

Come Rack! Come Rope! Come IRS!

I am in the middle of reading Robert Hugh Benson’s historical novel “Come Rack! Come Rope!” which chronicles the lives of English Catholics under Queen Elizabeth.  Prominently featured in the book’s early going are the various fees and fines imposed upon those Catholics who failed to abide by the government’s bidding and attend Anglican church services.

As I read today’s Supreme Court decision regarding the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”, I am struck by a certain parallel.

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German Court Prohibits Circumcision

According to a news report from today’s Times of Israel, a German court has held that the circumcision of children constitutes “severe and irreversible interference into physical integrity” and is as such prohibited unless medically necessary.

Could Americans be confronted by a similar decision someday?

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“I die the Company’s good servant, but God’s first.”

Today is the feast of St. Thomas More, patron Saint of lawyers.

Although the quotation above does not capture his final words with complete accuracy, it raises an issue that I have often pondered as a corporate law scholar.

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Fortnight for Freedom

As Mark mentioned back in April, yesterday kicked off the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference’s “Fortnight for Freedom.”  As per the USCCB’s website, this is:

“special period of prayer, study catechesis, and public action [that] will emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country have scheduled special events that support a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.”

This is truly an unprecedented development on a variety of levels (at least in terms of recent American history), which makes media’s silence and scant coverage deafening.

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When it comes to religion, everybody’s an expert

A phenomenon I’ve noticed increasingly of late is the tendency of individuals to opine on particularly weighty religious matters despite their rather extreme ignorance regarding these very same matters.  I’ve seen this regularly on Facebook, but even on more formal occasions – such as commencement addresses.

Indeed, the phenomenon extends to (and, in fact, is commonly manifested by) statements made by non-Christians regarding questions of Christian belief and practice.

As I would not opine seriously on the best procedures to follow with respect to open-heart surgery (as I have absolutely no medical training), why are so many others who have never had anything to do with religion so quick to comment on serious matters of religion?

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The Interminable SSPX-Vatican Rapprochement

Mark has written about the SSPX (the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X) here and here.  As Mark mentioned, the SSPX is a canonically irregular Catholic group with a traditionalist orientation (in terms of liturgy, discipline, and doctrinal interpretation).  I had hoped to report upon the group’s full re-integration into the Catholic Church this month – which is something that well-founded rumours had predicted.  Alas, the latest indication is that if such a re-integration occurs, it will occur in July at the earliest.  As this is a story that I’ve been following closely for some years now, I thought I’d spend a post laying the situation out and offering a few observations.

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Free Exercise Standing for the Business Corporation?

I have long pondered the question of whether a for-profit business corporation ought to be afforded standing under the Free Exercise Clause.  The issue has not been addressed at length in the case law – in fact, those rare courts to have been presented with it have usually found a way to side-step the issue and resolve the matter on other grounds.

I certainly believe the argument for such standing is stronger than ever in the wake of Citizens United, which afforded for-profit corporations the full protections of the First Amendment’s free speech rights.

If the Supreme Court fails to strike down ObamaCare (a decision which should be arriving any day now), it may have to address this question.  For a handful of plaintiffs in the lawsuits against ObamaCare’s contraceptive / sterilization / abortiofacient mandate consist of for-profit business corporations that are pressing free-exercise claims.

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Benefit Corporations

Earlier this year, New York became the seventh state to recognize an interesting new category of business: the “benefit corporation.”

Unlike the typical for-profit corporation, which must be run to maximize shareholder profits, the benefit corporation is explicitly enabled to balance its profit-maximization objective with some other “public benefit” of its choosing.  The statute sets forth a list of qualifying “public benefits,” which includes a variety of worthwhile causes.  Conspiciously absent from this list is anything having to do with religion.

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NYC Health Dept. & Circumcision

Straight from the NY Daily News:

“The city Health Department on Wednesday “strongly” urged against an ultra-Orthodox Jewish circumcision ritual that uses oral-genital suction to remove the blood.

In September, a Brooklyn infant died after the procedure because he contracted herpes from the rabbi, or mohel , who performed it.

“There is no safe way to perform oral suction on any open wound in a newborn,” city Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said in a statement.

The ritual leaves infants at risk of contracting herpes simplex virus type 1.”

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