Justices sidestep Catholics' case against San Francisco

May 3, 2011

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Supreme Court on Monday (May 2) declined to hear a
Catholic group's appeal accusing San Francisco supervisors of violating
the Constitution when they disparaged the Catholic Church's opposition
to gay adoptions.

The refusal lets stand last year's ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals that said the New York-based Catholic League had failed
to prove that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors' resolution applies
to them in a "direct and concrete manner."

As usual, the Supreme Court did not comment on its refusal to hear
the appeal, but Catholic League President Bill Donohue said his suit was
still successful in some ways.

"While we lost in terms of implanting a legal marker, I do think a
cultural marker has been made," he said. "We haven't seen the same kind
of vitriol directed at the Catholic Church. A message has been sent."

In 2006, San Francisco supervisors passed a resolution calling on
the local archdiocese and its charitable programs to allow same-sex
couples to adopt children.

The nonbinding resolution called it "an insult to all San
Franciscans when a foreign country, like the Vatican, meddles with and
attempts to negatively influence this great city's existing and
established customs and traditions."

The resolution also strongly denounced Cardinal William Levada's
statement that allowing gay couples to adopt would mean "doing violence
to these children."

Donohue said he would not have brought suit if the supervisors had
simply said they disagree with the Catholic Church. "But they had to go
that extra step. The language they used was hateful. We think they
crossed a line."