Saturday, April 15, 2006
Ind. Decisions - More on: 7th Circuit revives lawsuit involving Notre Dame
A judge can order the University of Notre Dame to pay back a government grant used to train teachers in Roman Catholic schools if he finds the use was unconstitutional, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
The judges in Chicago ruled 2-1 Thursday that Indianapolis federal Judge Larry McKinney acted prematurely when he dismissed the case as moot because the $500,000 Department of Education grant had already been spent.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which sued on behalf of taxpayers, wanted the court to order the Education Department to demand repayment. But Circuit Judge Richard Posner said that procedure was needlessly complex. * * *
Notre Dame received the money to redistribute to other colleges to help them replicate the Alliance for Catholic Education. The program trains teachers who then teach in Catholic schools that have inadequate resources. Private donations also fund the program.
The ACLU of Indiana said the government had no business paying for religious education. The ruling is "another step in our ability to be able to prove that the government should not be subsidizing this type of parochial school training," said ACLU of Indiana attorney Ken Falk.
"From our view of this program, it was purely to teach teachers to teach religion," said Falk, who did not argue the case in court.
The attorney who represented Notre Dame disagreed, saying the school had handled the program in line with previous U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
"There was no teaching of religion involved," said Michael Carvin, an attorney with Jones Day's Washington office. "The money was segregated for secular purposes."
Carvin said Notre Dame might decide to appeal to the Supreme Court. He agreed with Circuit Judge Diane Sykes' 13-page dissent.
Sykes wrote that the case was moot and the two-judge majority kept it alive by concocting a "newfangled" remedy inconsistent with previous rulings.
"This is a dramatic expansion of taxpayer standing, and there is no authority for it," she wrote.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 15, 2006 07:32 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions