June 3, 2010
Noted iconoclast—if you take down Mother Teresa in one of your books, you’re officially an iconoclast—Christopher Hitchens had a recent article in Slate where he argues against the position adopted by the Vatican that the Holy See, the “central government” of the Catholic Church in Rome, is a sovereign state, beyond the power of American courts. For a bit more on that, please see my earlier post. Mr. Hitchens mentioned that the U.S. government has weighed in on the subject by way of a brief to the Supreme Court complements of the Solicitor General’s office—headed by Elena Kagan. Disappointingly the Amicus Brief endorses the position of the Vatican that as a “sovereign state” the Holy See is, in fact, immune. It’s an interesting read, however, and it’s at 2010 WL 2032478. Hitchens also alludes to another question, which others have also spoken about: how much does Scalia’s (and other Justices’) Catholic faith influence their decisions? All in all this case presents a lot of law review/article fodder: the role of faith/ideology in jurists’ decision-making, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, the troubling (at least to Christopher Hitchens) fact of Kagan’s implicit or explicit defense of the Vatican, whether ideological or not, and other questions. Stay tuned.