Let’s suppose, hypothetically, that you were a municipal court judge in a small town, and someone sued the, oh, Baptist church you belonged to for monetary damages. You’d recuse yourself from hearing the case, wouldn’t you?
Well, the Obama Administration has now filed a brief in Doe v. Holy See, an Oregon case that seeks to sue the Vatican for its role in the sexual abuse crisis. Both the Federal District and Appeals courts have said the case can go forward; the administration’s brief asks that the case be sent back to the Appeals Court for a rehearing. There’s a very good chance that the Supreme Court will either do that or hear the case itself.
It’s hard to imagine that the Catholic justices–who now constitute two-thirds of the court’s membership–would recuse themselves in Holy See. But I can’t clearly see why they shouldn’t. It’s their church, right? If they did, that would leave it to three Jewish justices (assuming Elena Kagan is confirmed) to decide. Yikes.