WSJ: Joe Donnelly oddly silent about the Notre Dame lawsuit against the HHS mandate

posted at 12:41 pm on May 29, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

The media seems awfully uninterested in a series of lawsuits against the Obama administration filed by Catholic institutions, but they may have no choice but to cover it — at least in Indiana.  Richard Mourdock, the newly-minted Republican nominee for the US Senate in the state, last week announced his full-throated support for the University of Notre Dame’s action against the Department of Health and Human Services, but noted the irony in having a Ball State alum defend the Golden Dome while a two-time graduate of Notre Dame refuses to take a position.  That would be Mourdock’s opponent, Rep. Joe Donnelly, and the Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn wonders when Donnelly will climb off the fence:

It’s a simple question: Does the Indiana Democrat running for the U.S. Senate support Notre Dame’s lawsuit against the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate?

After all, the Democrat in question, Joe Donnelly, is a double Domer, boasting both undergraduate and law degrees from Notre Dame. He represents South Bend in Congress. Last week his Republican opponent, Richard Mourdock, used a visit to that city to declare his own support for the university’s effort. …

When asked by this reporter for a follow-up, his spokesman emailed a statement in which Mr. Donnelly repeated his call for a solution that would exempt religious organizations, and he said that his alma mater has the “right” to go to court.

It’s an indirect statement, and beyond its complaints that Mr. Mourdock is “picking a partisan fight,” it goes to considerable lengths to avoid saying simply: I support Notre Dame in its suit and hope the school prevails.

McGurn has more to say on the impact that Barack Obama’s attempts to redefine religious practice in order to impose his will will have on this election, so be sure to read it all.  The fight in Indiana might force other news organizations to cover the lawsuits, though, which would at least be an improvement over the last week.  Fox News Sunday interviewed Donald Cardinal Wuerl, who found the silence rather curious — especially since the news media seemed fascinated by the fate of a butler in the Vatican over a probe into leaks:


“It is puzzling, particularly since they’re focusing so much attention right now on the pope’s butler,” Wuerl said, in reference the scandal in which the pope’s butler Paolo Gabriele was charged with stealing sensitive documents and is suspected of leaking them.

“It seems to me that somehow they’ve missed the boat. They’ve missed the story,” Wuerl said.

The story, the archbishop said, is “religious liberty.”

Wuerl adamantly defended the lawsuits, which were filed by dozens of Catholic-affiliated institutions including schools, charities and the Archdiocese of Washington.

Wuerl explained exactly what’s at stake in the lawsuits:

He explained, “Embedded in the mandate is a radically new definition of what constitutes a religious community, what constitutes religious ministry. Brand new, never before applied at the federal level. That’s what we’re arguing about. The lawsuit says we have every right to serve in this community as we have served for decades and decades. The new definition says you’re not really religious if you serve people other than your own and if you hire people other than your own.”

That, at least to me, sounds like news.  Too bad more of the American media doesn’t seem to agree.  Donnelly’s not the only one doing a Domer dodge this past week.

Update: “Disinterested” in the first sentence should have been “uninterested.” I’ve corrected it.


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