Lawsuit proceeding against the Vatican

It’s not every day that the Supreme Court makes headlines because of the cases it chooses not to hear:

The US Supreme Court has declined to hear the Vatican’s appeal of an Oregon judge’s decision allowing a sex-abuse victim to proceed with a lawsuit against the Vatican.

The Supreme Court made no decision on the case, and no comment on the merits of the arguments, but simply decided not to add the Vatican’s appeal to the crowded docket of cases to be argued before the high court. The effect of the Supreme Court decision is to send the lawsuit back to the Oregon court for discovery and an eventual trial. The lawsuit has been moving through the courts since 2002.

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The Vatican argued that it should be exempt from such a suit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act, but a lower court ruled that the case could proceed “if the plaintiff can demonstrate that the priest who abused him was acting as an employee of the Vatican.” The Supreme Court apparently agrees — so now it will be down to the plaintiff to make that case.

Oh — and the attorney for the plaintiff in Holy See v. John Doe? None other than Jeffrey Anderson. Anderson once famously declared that he planned to “sue the sh-t out of [the Catholic Church] everywhere” — so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that he’s now aiming for the top.


  • Margaret Cabaniss

    Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at

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