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The Money Race

Readers of Ryan Lizza’s “The Obama Memos” (The New Yorker, 1/30), know that President Obama is above all a pragmatist. That article analyzed a series of the president’s decisions and revealed that more often than not he chose what he perceived to be the most politically feasible path. In light of the president’s practical bent, it was not surprising that his administration reversed course and endorsed a “super PAC” to aid his re-election bid. It was nonetheless discouraging and possibly illegal.

The Supreme Court has ruled that independent expenditures on political campaigns must be “totally independent” and made “without any candidate’s approval (or wink or nod)” (Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Commission v. Federal Election Commission, 2001). It is very difficult to argue that Restore Our Future, the super PAC affiliated with Mitt Romney, or the president’s support group, Priorities USA Action, meet this stringent standard. In the case of the president’s group, the endorsement came by way of a conference call from the Obama campaign. And though President Obama will not appear at any events sponsored by the super PAC, staff from his administration will.

One way to combat the ill effects of recent Supreme Court decisions that allow big donors to spend unlimited funds to influence elections is to ensure that these expenditures are in fact independent. Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21 has requested that Attorney General Eric Holder investigate the ties between super PACs and presidential campaigns. Of course, now that the Obama campaign has jumped on board the money train, his attorney general may be reluctant to dig too deep. The scenario leaves one yearning for a little less pragmatism and a little more idealism.

The Case for Good Counsel

The recent increase in the number of deportations of immigrants is not due only to the tough policies of the Department of Homeland Security. Poor legal representation also plays a major role. When the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University asked immigration judges in New York State to rate the performance of lawyers they had observed in deportation cases from mid-2010 to mid-2011, the judges rated the performance “inadequate” in a third of the cases and “grossly inadequate” in another 14 percent. That is nearly half of all cases when combined. Worse, from 2005 to 2010 over a quarter of the immigrants had no legal representation at all, which markedly skewed their case results. Two-thirds of the immigrants with counsel had successful outcomes, compared with only 8 percent of those without a lawyer. In short, there would be many fewer deportations if all immigrants had competent legal representation.

Yet even basic legal information is withheld from detainees around the country. In 2010 more than half of the nation’s detention facilities offered the detainees no information about their legal rights, and more than three-fourths prohibited private phone calls with lawyers. To correct the information gap, Catholic Charities—in Florida, California, Louisiana and Georgia—is working with the Legal Orientation Program of the nonprofit Center on Immigration and Justice to inform immigrant detainees about their rights and about the court and the detention process. Governments, law schools and legal associations should champion the twin causes of competent legal counsel and information for immigrants.

All You Holy Women

The recent consistory in Rome was a momentous occasion for the 22 men named cardinals, but the day also honored two American Catholic women. On Feb. 18 the College of Cardinals approved the canonization of Blessed Marianne Cope and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. Their canonization will take place in October, along with that of five other blesseds. Marianne Cope, O.S.F., served as a teacher and hospital administrator in central New York State, where she helped to establish two of the first hospitals in that area. But she is best known for her later work. During the last 30 years of her life, Sister Cope served alongside St. Damien deVeuster, SS.CC., at a leper colony in Hawaii, where she died in 1918 at the age of 80. While caring for people with leprosy, she made sure to attend not just to her patients’ physical needs but to their educational and spiritual needs as well.

Kateri Tekakwitha’s life was far shorter, but her service and virtue equally admirable. Kateri, born in 1656 in what is now upstate New York, is often called “Lily of the Mohawks” in honor of her mixed Mohawk and Algonquin heritage. Baptized by a Jesuit at the age of 20, she died only four years later. In her short lifetime she endured ridicule from her tribe for her Christian faith but maintained her practices of prayer, penance and care for the sick and aged. Scarred by smallpox as a young child, her intercession is often sought by individuals with skin diseases.

Both women are reminders of the simple ways Catholics today can be of service to others.

Comments

David Davis | 3/6/2012 - 5:43am

THE MONEY RACE - the Supreme Court interpreted the constitution, it is up to Congress and the President to enact legislation. They could require all money to go through a Credit Card Co. They are very adept at knowing where money comes from and goes to. All monies would have to be posted on line before they are spent. All monies spent on any candidate's campaign must go through the account, be posted online within 7 days and it would cost less than 2%. Penalties for mistakes would be felonies requiring at least 1yr incarceration. Frauds or second mistakes would require at least 5 years incarceration and lifetime bans on participation in any campaign financial issues. Issue campaigns would continue as-is.

THE CASE FOR GOOD COUNSEL - If you all had fought harder against abortion and pushed for Enactment and Enforcement of immigration law back in the 80's we wouldn't have this problem. By the way you can call them illegal immigrants if they came in illegally or overstayed illegally.

ALL YOU HOLY WOMEN - Truly admirable women, I still remember the SSND Sisters from Catholic Grade School. They were also wonderful women.

JIM MCCREA | 2/29/2012 - 5:43pm
This article about 22 MALE cardinals and 2 canonized FEMALES simply points out the ongoing palpable shame of this church in how it deals with genders. Granted being canonized is heads and shoulders above being given a new red dress and the right to be bowed and scraped to by toadies of all stripes, but the contrast remains shameful.
ROBERT OCONNELL | 2/24/2012 - 2:14pm
Thank you for this news on these two Holy Women.   Sister Cope impresses me because she (a) knew what she was getting into, (b) served God and His people where too few others would, (b) was kind also to Damien, my favorite Saint.  Kateri Tekiiwitha captures my heart because she suffered criticism from her own people for being Catholic: truly an American Catholic.

In many respects these American Saints are an example we might emulate today, especially as we live our faith in regard to  abortion, contraception and religious liberty.  Doing so in concert with our Bishops andour Popes in the modern America requires grace and humility. 

Perhaps we mght pray more often for assistance from our Saints.

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