Praying for Justice Scalia (and the Little Sisters of the Poor)

ScaliaSquareThe Gregorian Institute is mourning the loss of Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away peacefully on February 13, at the age of 79, and received last rites posthumously. A tribute is being planned for him later this week.

We are asking the Memorare Army to pray for the repose of his soul.

Appointed in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, Justice Scalia became a leading justice on the Supreme Court. Once appointed, he hung a picture of St. Thomas More in his office – the saint martyred for speaking out against his King in favor of the truth.

“A big part of his legacy will be how navigated the relationship between one’s deeply held faith commitments and one’s role as judge,” Notre Dame law professor Richard Garnett said in an interview. “For him, the way to navigate that relationship, it was not to compromise one’s religious faith or water it down, it was to distinguish between the legal questions a judge has the power to answer and the religious commitments a judge has the right to hold, just like all of us do.”

We also ask that the Memorare Army continue to pray for the increase of religious liberty in America, especially in the wake of the death of Justice Scalia. With him gone, the Supreme Court bench is now set to evenly divide on upcoming cases involving religious liberty, and with Justice Kennedy maintaining the swing vote, rulings could be made against religious freedom.

The biggest impending religious freedom case is Little Sisters of the Poor vs. Burwell, which fights for the Little Sisters of the Poor to have the right to deny their employees coverage of contraception and abortifacients, according to their religious-based consciences. Under Obamacare, the Little Sisters would have to provide such coverage, violating the tenants of their faith.

So far, their court trials have ended in rulings against them. As the American Spectator explains, if the case in the Supreme Court ends in a split vote, the final ruling will uphold the previous one, that of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals – which decided against the Little Sisters.

A decision in favor of the Little Sisters has never seemed like a sure thing, but their odds were better when Justice Scalia was on the bench. With him now gone, and with Justice Kennedy remaining the uncertain voter, their case is now under more threat than before. If Justice Kennedy votes in favor of the Little Sisters, there will most likely be a 4-4 vote, assuming the other justices vote in accordance with their histories. If Justice Kennedy votes against them, it will be a solid 5-3 loss. Either way, the Little Sisters are in danger.

So while you’re saying a prayer for the repose of the soul of Justice Scalia, add a Memorare for the Little Sisters and their cause for religious liberty.

The Gregorian Institute is Benedictine College’s initiative to promote Catholic identity in public life by equipping leaders (the Gregorian speech digest), training leaders (the Gregorian Fellows), defending the faith (the Memorare Army for Religious Freedom), and celebrating Catholic identity (the Catholic Hall of Fame).

Eileen Wittig