Saturday, May 06, 2006

"Catholic Church in Colorado scores victory as statutes of limitation bill crumbles"

See the article: Catholic Church in Colorado scores victory as statutes of limitation bill crumbles.
House Bill 1090 has received a barrage of criticism, being called anti-Catholic and being accused of placing unjust burdens on the Church which do not exist on secular institutions like public schools.
The public schools, which have an enormous amount of sexual abuse of minors, are exempt from this law; most religious denominations have an oft-changing congregational organization and so are effectively exempt from this law.

Ex post facto criminal laws are prohibited by the Constitution, while no such limit exists for civil law. Under the civil law, you don't even have to be guilty to incur penalties. Colorado modeled this law after the one in California, which opened up litigation against priests who died decades ago. The law itself was written by plaintiff lawyers who intend to get very wealthy off of these cases.

These types of punitive civil lawsuits were pioneered by the Superfund toxic-waste cleanup law, that sued innocent landowners who had nothing whatsoever to do with the initial toxic dumping. Many of the innovative laws promoted since the 1960s are based on this model: typically, specific guilt of an individual is not necessary to bring a case, and cash damages awarded are vastly larger than actual damages. The burden of proof is far lower than in criminal cases, and as we said, they can make ex post facto laws with impunity. Just think: you can be doing something perfectly legal now, only to find out that you are liable for it in the future. Trial lawyers love these types of lawsuits, because it is like winning the lottery, at much better odds.

Progressives also like these kinds of laws because they can promote radical agendas by circumventing the legislative and executive functions of government. Judges typically serve for life, not having to run for reelection. Elected officials like these laws because they don't take the blame for it...they can point to the judges. Also, since the taxpayer doesn't have to pay for, say, toxic cleanup, taxes can be used for other purposes.

English Common Law, the original basis of our legal system, was based on Catholic moral law: a person has to be guilty of a crime, with intent, and taking circumstances into consideration before punishment is imposed. Under this system, the punishable crimes themselves have to be based on the natural moral law and must not be arbitrary; also, to serve justice, the crime must be prosecuted quickly, since memory fades and evidence decays. The new basis of our laws is the theory of "positive law", which is based on amoral social control, and where the strong impose arbitrary justice upon the weak.

However, I do not support these clergy who break their vows and abuse their positions of trust. Criminal punishment is certainly called for, including punishment for these clerics' superiors if they materially supported these crimes. The civil law, however, is just used as a way of transfering wealth from the innocent to the lawyers.

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