February 03, 2006

Mahony's long-shot

Los Angeles Times

By Eric Berkowitz, ERIC BERKOWITZ is a freelance journalist and lawyer living in Los Angeles.

THURSDAY, THE Archdiocese of Los Angeles asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule a series of lower court decisions and allow it to keep secret 14 documents from the confidential files of two former priests accused of child molestation.

The church doesn't have a particularly good chance of winning. It has been fighting to keep the documents out of the hands of a grand jury for three years, and there is little reason to believe the Supreme Court will back what a Times editorial has called Cardinal Roger M. Mahony's "unseemly struggle" to conceal the truth about the priests' transgressions.

The church's argument that the 1st Amendment's freedom-of-religion clauses and various state privileges entitle it to withhold the documents from the grand jury has drawn near-universal derision. Most everyone seems to believe that Mahony's real aim is to reduce the archdiocese's potential liability in the scandal and to hide the church's complicity in keeping dangerous priests on the job.

Perhaps so. But when the grand jury finally gets the documents (assuming the court orders that), justice will be taking a step backward.

Posted by kshaw at February 3, 2006 10:24 PM