A federal judge has dismissed the ACLU’s attempt to block the government from delegating the care of immigrant unaccompanied minors and sex-trafficking victims to a Catholic group that opposes birth control and abortion, and transfers those wishing to have an abortion to other shelters.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California filed the lawsuit against the secretary of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, alleging violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler of the Northern District of California signed an order Thursday denying the ACLU’s motion for summary judgment and granting the same motions from the defendants.
“While the ACLU claims that the government has provided millions of dollars in grant funding to the Bishops Conference while allowing the Conference to impose its religious beliefs and restrict access to abortion and contraception services to the unaccompanied minors and trafficking victims in its care, the record in this case does not bear this out,” Beeler added, finding “no evidence that any grant funding was used for any religious purpose or that any unaccompanied minor or trafficking victim who wanted an abortion or contraception was unable to obtain them.”
The order said the government, through the Office of Refugee Resettlement, has paid the Catholic Bishops Conference $170 million over three years to house and care for unaccompanied, undocumented minors: $42.9 million in 2015, $54.7 million in 2016 and $72.7 million in 2017.
Beeler repeated many times the phrase, “there is no evidence in the record.” No evidence of the bishops using the money to promote religious views, fund Catholic education or maintain churches, she said.
Beeler said, “The fact that certain government grantees like the Bishops Conference have religious objections to abortion has, in three or four instances, led to unaccompanied minors being transferred from one shelter to another.
“A reasonable person would not view the government, which facilitated access to abortion by transferring unaccompanied minors who want abortions to shelters where they can obtain them, to be endorsing the Conference’s anti-abortion views,” Beeler said.
Full story at The Recorder.