The Pizza-man Delivers; the Thomas More Law Center (Eleventh in a Series)
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Sep 30, 2006 at 03:30:18 PM EST

Tom Monaghan the pizza dough man has delivered us the The Thomas More Law Center, its mission, its members, and most of all, its legal philosophy.  And as we will see, the center's lawsuits reveal a decidedly  theocratic disposition towards government.
The Thomas More Law Center describes its mission as "...a not-for-profit public interest law firm dedicated to the defense and promotion of the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life. Our purpose is to be the sword and shield for people of faith, providing legal representation without charge to defend and protect Christians and their religious beliefs in the public square." This sense of legal militancy is affirmed by its logo which features a sword superimposed over a cross surrounded by American Flag bunting and a bald eagle.

[image : Tom Monaghan, detail excerpt from American Fundamentalists by artist, musician, and activist Joel Pelletier ( see link for entire painting ) ]

The TMLC galaxy is a "who's who" of the stars of the Religious  (and Catholic) Right. Its Advisory Board includes Opus Dei member Bowie Kuhn as well as Alan Keyes. The Board of Legal Review includes Gerald V. Bradley while its faculty consists of such notable players of the Right such as Robert H. Bork and Richard Thompson TMLC web sits constantly flashes praises from the likes of James Kennedy, William Donohue and Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa). All in all, TMLC reflects the far-Right views
of many of its Federalist Society members.

TMLC makes no bones that its members are engaged in a culture war against the supposedly ungodly:

Our ministry was inspired by the recognition that the issues of the cultural war being waged across America, issues such as abortion, pornography, school prayer, and the removal of the Ten Commandments from municipal and school buildings, are not being decided by elected legislatures, but by the courts.

The notable cases it has been involved includes the Religious Right's unsuccessful intelligent designcase of Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al. as well as litigation involving the Mount Soledad Cross (apparently, having no concern if Jewish or Muslim veterans would object to a giant 29 foot cross, sitting astride a 14 foot pedestal over a federally-owned military cemetery). Another matter of litigation that will be explored below in greater detail is Catholic League v. City of San Francisco.

HB 1191,the South Dakota anti-abortion bill that was primarily designed to reach the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade.

And as cultural warrior institution, it clearly identifies whom it sees as the enemy:

These court decisions, largely insulated from the democratic process, have been inordinately influenced by legal advocacy groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which seek to systematically subvert the religious and moral foundations of our nation. Recent examples of the federal courts' pivotal role in the cultural war are the cases of Stenberg v. Carhart in which the U.S. Supreme Court held Nebraska's ban on partial birth abortion unconstitutional, in effect nullifying similar bans in 30 other states and Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe which prohibited students from leading stadium crowds in prayer before high school football games.
> Quite a self-introduction.

Links to Tom Monaghan
Without Monaghan, there would be no TMLC. As an article linked on the center's web site states:

Founded six years ago with seed money from conservative Catholic philanthropist Tom Monaghan, the Thomas More Law Center is named after the patron saint of lawyers...
Monaghan, who founded Domino's Pizza, footed the law center's operating costs for a number of years, shelling out as much as $1.5 million annually. Now the firm operates on its own at Domino's Farms, supported by 50,000 donors, Thompson said.

Beyond this initial donation, between 2001 and 2004 Monaghan's Ave Maria Foundation provided an additional $4,099,712.00. To say that Monaghan has a stake in TMLC's success would be an understatement.

The Waiting Game
The afore-mentioned case of Catholic League v. City of San Francisco tells us a great deal about what TMLC truly stands for: a slide towards theocracy.

The controversy began when Cardinal William Levada, the current head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith  (formerly known as the Office of the Inquisition) directed Catholic Charities of San Francisco not to place children up for adoption in homosexual households. On March 14, 2006 the San Francisco's Board of Supervisors issued non-binding resolution that tersely called upon Cardinal Levada to withdraw his directive.

But TMLC wanted to make a point. Acting upon the non-binding resolution, the center brought on litigation that could have made a case built upon possible state interference with the free practice of religion, instead it raised the Carlist specter of imposing ultra-orthodox Catholic theology as the moral basis for secular standards of law.

While there are variations of this political philosophy two of its common hallmarks should stand out to those who are concerned about theocratic trends in the world. First, it sees ultra-orthodox Catholicism as the cornerstone of the state. Secondly, sovereignty is vested not with the people, but with a monarch, who in turn is answerable only to the Catholic Church.  Whether it be full-blown Carlists or those whose political vision is only influenced by it, these are the two commonly held themes that appear in their various pronouncements.

Carlist philosophy is readily apparent in both Monaghan's motives as well as those of TMLC. And the belief of orthodox Catholicism being the moral cornerstone of our secular society can be seen in a plain reading of TMLC's complaint.

For example Paragraph 19 of the Statement of Facts reads:

Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of great depravity, Catholic tradition has always declared that are intrinsically disordered.They are contrary to natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved (boldface added).

Starting with the second sentence, Paragraph 20 of the Statement of Facts reads:

The common good requires that laws recognize, promote, and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would not only mean the approval of deviant behavior, with the consequence of making it model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity.  The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself. (boldface and italics added)

The highlighted language of paragraphs 19 and 20 go beyond Catholic Charities having to be involved in adoptions that run contrary to religious beliefs. Instead, TMLC's litigation brought on behalf of the Catholic League of San Francisco demands that a subjective truth for some be proclaimed as an objective truth for all. Their long-term goal is not about relief from having to compromise Catholic principles of faith, but instead to impose Catholic natural law principles as the cornerstone of American jursiprudence. Such an arrogant view even fails to consider that in our value pluralistic society there are even other interpretations of natural law worth consideration.

Currently, such arguments are far from being the law of the land.  But today's objective view may not be tomorrow's. And that is why Monaghan is investing his wealth into building communities with educational systems designed to churn out business leaders, elected officials, lawyers and most of all judges who will see an ultra-orthodox view of natural law as the basis for American Jurisprudence. For Monaghan and others of similar thought, they believe time is on their side. And that's why they are playing a waiting game; one where the winners achieve theocracy.

And it is that vision for such an educational system that will be explored in the next installment of this series.

The Catholic Right: A Series, by Frank Cocozzelli :  Part One  Part Two  Part Three   Part Four  Part Five  Part Six   Intermezzo   Part Eight   Part Nine  Part Ten

It is sad to that some of us who are free to practice are our Catholicism are not content that others enjoy the very same freedom to worship as they see fit. What Mr. Monaghan and his cohorts intend on doing is legislating a highly subjective morality that other Americans--including most Catholics--do not follow out of choice.

His rememdy to to such disagreement is simple: control the judiciary so as to remove that freedom of choice.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sat Sep 30, 2006 at 03:38:20 PM EST

I'm wondering where the American Bar Association stands on the Thomas More law center?  Is it accredited?  

by cyncooper on Sun Oct 01, 2006 at 06:00:30 PM EST
TMLC is not a law school, but more akin to an ultra-orthodox Catholic Right version of the ACLU. But unlike the ACLU, which is concerned with what is constitutional, TMLC is only concerned with establishing legal precedent based upon strict Catholic notions of natural law.

And that proves that they are wrong about the ACLU, which actually supported the right of the organizers of the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade to exclude gay Irish groups.

As for for ABA approval, you're thinking of the Ave Maria Law School which will be examined in the next installment of the CR. And while the school was fully accredited by the ABA in the shortest time possible, as we shall see, there are problems.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Oct 01, 2006 at 07:04:37 PM EST

Yes, it's Ave I was thinking of.  I look forward to reading that.

by cyncooper on Mon Oct 02, 2006 at 04:31:02 AM EST

Thanks again for another good installment on the Catholic Right.


by khughes1963 on Sun Oct 01, 2006 at 10:05:12 PM EST

Kathy, if you were the only person reading these posts, it would still be worth writing it!

by Frank Cocozzelli on Mon Oct 02, 2006 at 07:11:08 AM EST

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