Indiana judge rules on fairness for the Notre Dame 88

religion | Sep 24, 2010 | By Martin Barillas

Rev. John I. Jenkins CSC

On September 20, St. Joseph County IN Circuit Court Judge ruled that attorneys from the Thomas More Society may depose a former official recently fired by the University of Notre Dame—a key ruling for the defense in the case of the so-called “ND88,” the 88 pro-life demonstrators arrested at the University for protesting President Obama’s receiving honors at the commencement ceremonies in 2009. According to a news release from the Thomas More Society, Chief Judge Michael Scopelitis ruled that William Kirk, former associate vice president for residential life at Notre Dame, may be deposed by the Society’s special counsel, Tom Dixon, about the decision to arrest and prosecute the pro-lifers.

Pro-life organizations nationwide have long noted President Obama’s forceful support of abortion rights, including so-called partial-birth abortions. Catholic protesters at Notre Dame noted that the President’s position is directly at odds with Church teachings.

A motion by the prosecution to quash the deposition was overruled, and Chief Judge Scopelitis will pass on any objections arising during the deposition, as he stipulated that it must take place at the St. Joseph County Courthouse. “This represents a major victory for the defense, and perhaps even a decisive turning point in this case,” said Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society.

At a hearing late last week, Dixon argued that the deposition should not be quashed, as Kirk’s testimony would likely shed new light on why Notre Dame had treated the pro-life protesters differently than others, said the release. As recently as January 2010, gay rights activists had demonstrated on campus without an allegedly requisite written permit. In sharp contrast, the 88 pro-life demonstrators have been arrested, jailed, charged with trespass and prosecuted.

The Thomas More Society has argued that the ND88 were not criminal trespassers but victims of “viewpoint discrimination,” a violation of the First Amendment, which applied to Notre Dame security police as they exercised statutory arrest powers vested in them under Indiana state law. A judge in Indiana has approved a request to depose a key school administrator by lawyers representing the "Notre Dame 88," pro-life activists who were arrested on orders from the Catholic university while they protested the school's speaking invitation to the devoutly pro-abortion President Barack Obama.

The move is key to the Notre Dame 88's defense, because when the famed university cracked down on the Obama critics, Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins issued a statement that all protesters were treated equally on campus.

However, Kirk may have first-hand knowledge that the university previously allowed "gay" rights and anti-ROTC protesters to operate on campus without a permit and without any charges being filed, according to the Society. Kirk had served the university for many years but according to the Society "was abruptly let go after it became public that, while Notre Dame had arrested and vigorously prosecuted pro-life demonstrators, in prior years the university filed no charges against gay rights and anti-ROTC activists who also had protested on campus without permission."

Among those arrested on the day President Obama spoke at Notre Dame was former Ambassador and presidential candidate Alan Keyes who stated that the university's "action continues to resonate with evil, even as new evidence mounts of Obama's unalterable commitment to spread and intensify the deadly perversion of moral logic involved in promoting so-called 'abortion rights.”

An eloquent spokesman for conservatives, Keyes also wrote "The Obama faction proposal for inaugurating the socialist takeover of the U.S. health sector has stirred deep moral opposition. People of decent conscience are appalled by the calculus of evil involved in provisions which implement cost-cutting health-care rationing that targets the elderly and war afflicted military veterans while increasing the availability of public money for the slaughter of innocent human offspring in the womb and the laboratory.

"The Notre Dame scandal contributes to an ongoing abuse of conscience that could result in U.S. government policies that implement an even more complete and pervasive promotion of the culture of death than we have already seen in the years since the Roe v. Wade decision," Keyes said. A devout Catholic, Keyes scored the leadership of the famed Catholic university and compared it to those who betrayed Jesus. Said Keyes,"Will anything ever be done to curtail the ongoing spiritual and moral damage being daily inflicted by this scandal? Will anything ever be done to forestall the persecution of fellow Catholics and Christians still being pursued at the behest of Notre Dame's president and other responsible officials? I am told that, like Pontius Pilate, Notre Dame President John Jenkins professes to have washed his hands of the matter, repenting neither of the scandal nor the persecution perpetrated in an attempt to discredit and silence the voices of conscience. Such abuse of power, in contempt for the authority of God and the Church, is itself another public episode of scandal, repeated anew with every day that passes. …"

The pro-life Collaborators Project has warned that it may designate Notre Dame University as among those institutions fostering abortion, despite its Catholic affiliation. Leslie Hanks of the Project wrote to Fr. Jenkins, "Because Notre Dame has extended the extraordinary honor of speaking at one of America's foremost Catholic colleges to one with such cavalier disregard for the sanctity of life, social tension is increasing exponentially in your community.... Collaborators Project was founded to do precisely that. Our motto is, 'No Child Killing with Tranquility."


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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