|Lucia Silecchia, professor, law, was quoted in a New York Times article about the Red Mass held to mark the beginning of the Supreme Court judicial year. For the first time, the court has a Catholic majority with five justices who are members of the Church. Clifford Fishman , professor, law, was quoted in a New York Times article about the legality of monitoring strategies Hewlett-Packard used to screen employees' interactions with reporters. See Professor Silecchia's comments below.|
From: The New York Times Date: Oct. 2, 2006 Author: Neela Banerjee WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 - Speaking to Supreme Court justices, cabinet members, politicians and hundreds of judges and lawyers gathered here on Sunday to celebrate a special Mass marking the start of the judicial calendar, Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington rejoiced in what he called the resurgence of faith in the shaping of public policy and urged those before him to remain rooted in their religion.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Sunday with Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington after a service marking the judicial new year.
"What we do and how we act, our morals and ethics, follow on what be believe," Archbishop Wuerl told a standing-room crowd at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Matthew downtown. "The religious convictions of a people sustain their moral decisions."
Officially called the Solemn Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit, "votive" indicating that it is being celebrated for a particular intention, Red Masses are held all over the country, typically at the start of a judicial year. The Supreme Court's new term begins Monday.
Worshipers ask for the blessing of the Holy Spirit on those who administer justice, in a tradition that goes back to 13th-century Europe. The service is called the Red Mass because of the red vestments clergy members wear.
This year, the Mass was celebrated by the new leader of the Washington Archdiocese, Archbishop Wuerl, to bless a Supreme Court that has a Catholic majority for the first time. The five Catholics on the court are Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr.
All but Justice Alito were in attendance Sunday, as were Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales; several other cabinet members; Mayor Anthony A. Williams; and Lt. Gov. Michael Steele of Maryland, a Republican candidate for the Senate.
Many non-Catholics attend Red Masses, as a sign of respect. Last year, President Bush came; generally, presidents attend at least one during their terms.
A procession of priests and bishops was followed by a police color guard. A Ralph Vaughan Williams hymn was followed by the national anthem.
Having earned a reputation as a skilled diplomat in his previous tenure as bishop of Pittsburgh, Archbishop Wuerl did not overtly talk about issues the church has championed, like prohibiting abortion, although the court this session will review the constitutionality of a ban on a type of late-term abortion.
Instead, he said the values formed by religion could not be separated from the insight and judgment brought to bear on law and policy.
"The two spheres, church and state, while distinct, are always interrelated," Archbishop Wuerl told the worshipers. "Politics, law, faith are mingled because believers are also citizens. Church and state are home for the same people."
For those who may have been looking for some clue to the archbishop's approach to political issues, he strode the range of Catholic social teaching without focusing on a particular topic, as he called for "speaking out against racial discrimination, social injustice or threats to the dignity of life."
Advocates on the right and the left have said that, historically, personal religious beliefs have not necessarily directed the way justices vote on a case. But when Justice Alito was confirmed in January, the news media and others noted the Catholic majority on the court.
Few may have raised the issue of the justices' religion if they had all been Methodist, for instance, said John H. Garvey, dean of Boston College Law School, in a telephone interview. But Mr. Garvey said it was valid to discuss the religious composition of the court because some people would assume the justices voted a particular way because of their Catholic faith.
"They are not a voting bloc," Mr. Garvey said. "The Catholic Church is a very big tent with people from the far left and the far right in it. The fact that the Catholic members of the court are center-to-right rather than center-to-left says more about President Bush than about the Catholic Church."
Lucia A. Silecchia, professor of law at Catholic University of America in Washington, said it was too soon to tell whether the Catholic justices held common views. "Where it gets complicated is that all five identify themselves as Catholic, but they aren't necessarily consistent with one another," Professor Silecchia said.
The Mass ended with "America the Beautiful" and the hymn "O God Beyond All Praising." The archbishop descended the altar and left smiling and chatting with Chief Justice Roberts.
Later, on the steps of the cathedral, two young men approached Archbishop Wuerl to have him bless their rosaries and to take pictures with him.
As the archbishop stood with one man, the other, holding the camera, said happily, "Here's to the union of church and state!"
The archbishop laughed, but gently corrected him. "No," he said, "remember, I said they were two distinct spheres."