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Politics

Justices rely on 'standing'

WASHINGTON (RNS) -- As the U.S. Supreme Court ends its 2010-2011 term this week, legal scholars say a decision issued two months ago is likely to resonate within church-state debates for years to come.

On April 4, the justices rejected a challenge to an Arizona school tuition credit program that largely benefits religious schools, saying taxpayers did not have legal grounds to challenge a tax credit as government spending.

At the heart of the decision was an arcane yet essential legal term -- "standing," or a plaintiff's right to sue. Critics say the court increasingly relies on standing to dismiss church-state challenges without addressing the merits of the complaints.

Religion may play crucial role in 2012 campaign

WASHINGTON -- As seven Republican candidates for president prepared for a June 13 debate in New Hampshire and others waited in the wings, there were signs that religion will play as big a role in the 2012 election as it has in other recent campaigns.

Many of the declared or potential candidates lined up in Washington June 3-4 to address a "strategy briefing" sponsored by the Faith & Freedom Coalition, an organization headed by Christian Coalition founder Ralph Reed, and to pledge their commitment to the coalition's views on abortion, same-sex marriage and similar social issues.

Charges dropped against anti-Obama protesters

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An Indiana prosecutor May 5 dropped trespassing charges against nearly 80 anti-abortion activists who protested President Obama's 2009 commencement address and honorary degree at the University of Notre Dame.

Because Obama supports legalized abortion, some Catholics -- including dozens of bishops -- accused Notre Dame of tacitly endorsing his views and violating church teaching.

US taxes too high? Think again, says Jesuit

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“Some 30 years of anti-tax propaganda,” lobbying and legislation have turned the United States into one of the lowest-taxed countries in the developed world, says Jesuit Fr. Fred Kammer, former head of Catholic Charities USA.

The sobering results -- especially from a standpoint of the common good of the American people and from Catholic social teaching -- are “a widening of the gap between rich and poor to its current morally grotesque levels and the substantial deterioration of the U.S. infrastructure,” he said.

Kammer made his comments in the lead article of the spring issue of Just South Quarterly, the quarterly newsletter of Loyola University of New Orleans’ Jesuit Social Research Institute, which he heads.

The Jesuit priest and attorney, before his 1992-2001 stint as president of Catholic Charities, was policy advisor to the U.S. bishops on health and welfare and after that was provincial superior of the U.S. Jesuits’ southern province from 2002-2008.

Douglas Kmiec, U.S. Ambassador to Malta, resigns

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U.S. Ambassador to Malta, Douglas Kmiec, has resigned. His resignation will take effect on the Feast of the Assumption, Aug. 15, allowing him to conclude several projects, including the opening of a new embassy compound this summer.

Kmiec's resignation comes in the wake of a report from the Office of Inspector General that claimed Kmiec was spending too much time on writings and speeches unrelated to bilateral relations.

Activists want national holiday for Good Friday

WASHINGTON -- A small band of Christians is planning a rally in Washington, D.C., in a bid to make Good Friday a national holiday.

Organizer Sharon Jones, a New York-based missionary, recalled growing up observing the holiday in her native Britain.

She has scheduled a rally on the National Mall on April 22, or Good Friday. She hopes thousands will attend and watch a film about Jesus during the midday event.

Bill to legalize civil unions in Colorado dies

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DENVER -- Nearly eight hours of emotional testimonies and legislator commentaries at the state Capitol in Denver March 31 ended in the defeat of a bill that would have created civil unions in Colorado.

Voting 6-5 along party lines to defeat the bill, legislators went back and forth on the legal and societal effects that the state Senate bill could have on Coloradans. The debate featured seven hours of public testimonies in a standing-room-only Old Supreme Court room.

In Senate Muslim hearings, change in tone

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WASHINGTON — It was billed as the first-ever congressional hearing on the civil rights of American Muslims. But it played more like an Act II than a premiere.

In many ways, the hearing led by Senate Democrats on Tuesday (March 29) was the dramatic antithesis of one House Republicans held earlier this month on homegrown Islamic radicalism.

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