Faithandthelaw's Blog

The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

9th Circuit Hears Oral Arguments in Challenge to San Francisco’s Anti-Catholic Resolution

Posted by faithandthelaw on March 8, 2010

ANN ARBOR, MI – In a packed courtroom in San Francisco, eleven judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument yesterday in a case that could flush out what the U.S. Supreme Court means when it proclaims that the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution does not permit hostility toward religion.  At issue was San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ resolution that virulently condemned the Catholic Church for its moral teachings prohibiting the adoption of children by homosexual couples. Click here to read the Board’s resolution

The anti-Catholic resolution, adopted March 21, 2006, was challenged by the Thomas More Law Center, a national Christian legal advocacy group based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on behalf of the Catholic League and two Catholic residents of San Francisco.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel for the Law Center, observed, “Homosexual activists have complete control of San Francisco’s Board and over the years have intensified their anti-Christian attacks to the point of a totalitarian intolerance of Christians.  A week after the anti-Catholic resolution, the Board passed another resolution, this time condemning  25,000 Evangelical teens who were gathering in the city to express their opposition to abortion and homosexual conduct.”

Continued Thompson, “I want to commend the Catholic League, Valerie Meehan and Richard Sonnenshein for taking this courageous stand to end San Francisco’s hostility against Christians.”   

The Board’s resolution refers to the Vatican as a “foreign country” meddling in the affairs of the City and proclaims the Church’s moral teaching and beliefs on homosexuality as “insulting to all San Franciscans,” “hateful,” “insulting and callous,” “defamatory,” “absolutely unacceptable,”  “insensitive[] and ignoran[t].” The resolution makes reference to the Inquisition; and it urges the Archbishop of San Francisco and Catholic Charities of San Francisco to defy Church directives. 

Representing the plaintiffs was Thomas More Law Center attorney Robert Muise.  Muise told the court the Resolution was a specific condemnation of religious beliefs; and just as the Constitution forbids government endorsement of religion, it also prohibits government hostility toward religion.

The attorney defending the Resolution contended the supervisors had a secular purpose and were entitled to express disapproval of any group opposed to that purpose.

Judge Andrew Kleinfeld said he thought the resolution was anti-Catholic and would inhibit Catholicism.  Referring to the Supreme Court rulings against excessive government entanglement, he asked, “What could be more entangling than telling a the cardinal to defy the Vatican?” 

Other judges seemed to defend the resolution.  

The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes America’s Christian heritage and moral values, including the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life.  It supports a strong national defense and an independent and sovereign United States of America.  The Law Center accomplishes its mission through litigation, education, and related activities.  It does not charge for its services.  The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization.  You may reach the Thomas More Law Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website at

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