Attorney Lacovara, a member of the Diocese of Bridgeport, has more than 40 years' experience as a constitutional law teacher and practitioner.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Dear Member of the Judiciary Committee:When you entered the Legislature, I assume that you took an oath consistent with the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution recognizing that the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land and that all State officials are bound to respect it.
You now have before your Committee a bill that tests your fidelity to your constitutional duty. The bill is No. 1098, which candidly announces that its purpose is to "revise the corporate governance provisions [of the Connecticut Statutes] applicable to the Roman Catholic Church."
In more than forty years as a constitutional law teacher and practitioner, I cannot recall a single piece of proposed legislation at any level of government that more patently runs afoul of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment that does this bill.
"It suffices to note that the reorganization of the Diocese involves a matter of internal church government, an issue at the core of ecclesiastical affairs; Arts. 57 and 64 of the Mother Church constitution commit such questions of church polity to the final province of the Holy Assembly. Kedroff v. St. Nicholas Cathedral, 344U.S. 94, 116 (1952), stated that religious freedom encompasses the 'power [of religious bodies] to decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine'."
The quotation is from Justice Brennan's opinion for the Court in SERBIANORTHODOX DIOCESE v. MILIVOJEVICH, 426 U.S. 696, 721-22 (1976).