The church and the lawyers

Professor Patrick Schiltz of the University of St. Thomas Law School in Minneapolis is one of the smartest guys I know. Like Rocket Man, he is a Harvard Law graduate. After law school, Pat served as a law clerk to Justice Scalia during his last year as a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and his first year as a Supreme Court justice.
I had lunch with Pat a week before the Supreme Court issued its Michigan decisions; he predicted that the Court would “split the baby” ruling in favor of Michigan in the law school case and against it in the undergraduate case. I patiently explained to him why that should not be possible given the lack of any substantive distinction between the two cases. He replied, “The thing you have to understand about O’Connor is that she never means what she says.” Bingo!
After his clerkship, Pat practiced law at Faegre & Benson in Minneapolis where Rocket Man and I both got to know him. Pat specialized in the defense of clergy sexual abuse claims in the first wave of such litigation dating back to the 1980’s.
Pat has now taken to speaking and writing about the crisis created by this litigation for the Catholic Church. Today’s Star Tribune carries a news service story keyed to Pat’s thoughts on the subject, “St. Thomas educator opposes easing time limitations on abuse suits,” while Peter Steinfels devotes his weekly religion column in today’s New York Times to a more extensive examination of Pat’s proposals, “Beliefs.”


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