The First Amendment argument, advanced by some legal scholars, derives from a belief that churches ought to be considered autonomous, self-governing institutions whose internal decision-making is off-limits to secular courts. Religious institutions, including the Roman Catholic Church, have invoked the Constitution in arguing that they shouldn’t be liable for the hiring or supervision of a priest facing abuse allegations.

“To the extent there’s a First Amendment issue they’re talking about, it is not about sexual abuse as a First Amendment right. It is about the church deciding for itself how to respond to claims of misconduct among its members,” said Douglas Laycock, a University of Virginia law professor who specializes in the law of religious liberty.

And then there’s the whole issue of the cardinal and his role shielding sexually abusive priests who is going to vote for the next pope.



  1. tcc3 says:

    Establishment clause doesnt say anything about lawbreaking church members being immune from prosecution.

    The longer they try to defend the indefensible, the more they are exposed as a dangerous cult.

    • stormtrooper 651 says:

      Much more disturbing is Lady MacBeth working closely with pedobear Sesame Street while her hubby Barack is shielding civilian murderers paid to carry out hit jobs. Seems Chicagoland way more corrupt than the Vatican ever was, maybe that’s why the obamabots these scapegoat stories, especially with their public school system abusing millions.

  2. pedro says:

    Yawn!

  3. Raintree says:

    I think they are forgetting that The Constitution and The Bill Of Rights are pretty much gutted and useless… It was a nice experiment while it ran…

  4. Enemy_Of_The_State says:

    The next pope should be raped in public by the young men and women that this church hurt, with full intent to avoid prosecution. This church is like the banks and investment houses. Too big to fail or jail.

  5. Dallas says:

    Sounds like a plan. That’s what Jesus would do .

  6. orchidcup says:

    So anyone would be enabled to start a church or a religion that is an autonomous, self-governing institution whose internal decision-making is off-limits to secular courts.

    That is genius.

    I think I will call my religion Scientology, unless that name is already taken.

    • Hey! Zeus!!! says:

      Good one.

      Now try this one — “Christian Scientist.”

      I just crack me up. Get if? SCIENTIST!

      That’s the best joke of all time. (“Funny” how no one’s laughing very much.)

  7. bobbo, the ONLY true Libertarian on this blog, all others being dogmatic posers says:

    I call BS!

    “It is about the church deciding for itself how to respond to claims of misconduct among its members,” /// Church is free to do this all the time, just not “exclusively.” In fact, “if” the Church was enforcing its own rules, there wouldn’t be an issue. So–this 1st Amend Claim is totally bogus and just part of the attempted cover up. Its on par with Gun Nuts saying “Guns don’t Kill People” or Climate Change denieers saying “Its hot/cold where I am” and so forth.

    Not a valid argument at all, only the seemingly best argument that can be made given the truth cannot be tolerated.

    Its also another examply of how all the Const Rights must be (and are) balanced against all the others, none of them being absolute.

    Nut bags hate/can’t be reasonable though….. so you get the arguments above. “I ate a twinkie” …. or ….. “I read it on DU.”

  8. sargasso_c says:

    Delay prosecution long enough and the accused or the plaintiff die of old age.

  9. Between a Church whose leader is infallible and a Supreme Being who communicates telepathically, it’s hard to imagine how any problems can ever arise, except when ordinary people try to stick their noses where they don’t belong.

    The problem is not that the Church has too much autonomy, but too little!
    </irony>

  10. Glenn E. says:

    Churches and other religious institutions shouldn’t be exempt from the “aiding and abetting” of criminals. Or “criminal conspiracy” for covering up possible crimes. Arguing that they should be liable for giving an offender a job or position, when they didn’t know about said offender’s mental state. Is just a clever smoke screen. Nobody is liable for that. Not even government agencies, or private corporations. But some of these “Churches” go the extra step to hid or sequester the offender, they DO know about, after things get too hot for them. And whitewash their personnel records. That’s when they should answer for “helping” offenders or abusers, to get away with it.

    • spsffan says:

      Very well said Glenn!

      Just as we don’t particularly care who a rapist works for. But we Do care if the employer permits rape to be performed on their premisses, with their knowledge.

      It’s no different than Jerry Sandusky and Penn State.

      • Hey! Zeus!!! says:

        Minor difference. No one at Penn State is paying homage to a doll on a stick. At least, not “officially”!

        Penn State’s master seems to be whole bunch of green rectangular pieces of paper issued as I.O.U.’s for gold in a private vault that doesn’t exist (either).

  11. sho off says:

    If your fed up with the Catholic Church. Quit going. Quit paying. Jesus, a jew, would have no problem with you walking away. He was not and would never be a member of the Catholic Church.

    Since the Sabbath is Saturday, no worries about mortal sin of missing Mass. They don’t even have it on the right day of the week. In honor of Israel our great ally in the middle east we should move church to Saturday.

  12. Somebody says:

    Surprisingly short-sighted for an institution as old as the church.

    The first amendment won’t survive the second by as much as a day.

  13. Rick Cain says:

    So does the Pope-Mobile glass protect against lawsuits as well?

  14. So what says:

    Only twenty comment on a story about religion, child abuse, and the constitution. The snow storm must have knocked out everybody’s internet.