Anti-School Choice Group Says Judge Must Leave A Case Because She’s Catholic

Source: Flickr user SalFalko

Source: Flickr user SalFalko

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An anti-school choice group wants the judge of a lawsuit against Florida’s tax credit scholarship program to recuse herself from the case because her Catholic faith makes her “biased.”

Among the arguments listed in the motion requesting that she leave the case, the anti-choice groups cites the fact that “Cardinals and Bishops of the Catholic Church are pushing vouchers as a solution to a public school report.”

As the Cato Institute sums up:

The judge belongs to a Catholic charity and has spoken at a Catholic school, the local Catholic Conference took a position in the original lawsuit, and a cardinal in another state said nice things about school choice on TV, therefore the anti-school choice activists want her to recuse herself. In other words, they want her to recuse herself because she’s Catholic.

The motion was filed by Kathleen Oropeza, president of Fund Education Now.

According to Cato, this kind of motion attacking Catholic judges is not uncommon:

Hilariously, Oropeza claimed in her motion, “I do not base this motion on Judge Dempsey’s religious beliefs, but rather on the positions of the organizations with which she is affiliated.” Yes of course, organizations like… the Catholic church and affiliated Catholic charities. But this has nothing to do with the judge’s religious beliefs, she claims, it’s just an attempt to protect citizens from the nefarious “Catholic strategy” that she “discovered” in her “research.” That sounds awfully familiar…

Last year, plaintiffs demanded that a federal judge recuse himself from a case involving the Catholic church because he is Catholic. Sadly, the demand that Catholic judges recuse themselves from certain cases is increasingly common, even from seemingly respectable sources. The imposition of a religious test for judges should be vigorously resisted.