Rick Hickman/American Press via AP

Louisiana Supreme Court: Catholic Priests Have a ‘Property Right’ Not to Be Sued for Child Sexual Abuse

The Louisiana Supreme Court issued a ruling stopping sexual assault survivors from suing priests and other members of the Catholic Church to hold them accountable for crimes allegedly committed 50 years ago. The ruling has caused controversy due to the arguments laid out in the court’s opinion.

The ruling centers on a state law that allowed plaintiffs to reopen older cases of child sexual abuse for a three-year period that was set to end in June 2024. The change in the law was similar to New York’s Adult Survivors Act. However, the state Supreme Court decided that this change was unconstitutional.

Read related: A Closer Look at ‘Quiet on the Set’ and the Horrors of Child Abuse in Nickelodeon

The opinion also notes that the court is “constrained to find the statutory enactment is contrary to the due process protections enshrined in our constitution and must yield to that supreme law.” Genovese also argued that the “accrued prescription extinguishes civil obligations; therefore, their right to plead accrued prescription is a vest property right that cannot be divested by the legislature.

In English, the judge is essentially using the concept of property rights, which is commonly understood as personal possessions, to apply not only to physical items but also intangible rights. In this ruling, the term “property rights” includes the defendants’ rights under the law to assume that certain claims cannot be brought against them after a certain period has elapsed – specifically, the time limit laid out in the state’s statute of limitations.

When the Louisiana legislature enacted laws allowing plaintiffs to reopen cases that the statute of limitations would have previously prohibited, the Supreme Court decided this constituted an infringement on the “vested rights” of the accused. In essence, the defendants had a legal assurance that they could no longer be sued for incidents beyond a certain timeframe, making it a part of the legal “property,” according to the court. In short, Justice Genovese is insisting that laws that provide retroactive measures should not be allowed to violate constitutional rights, which supposedly include the right to be free from legal claims after the time allotted by the statute of limitations.

Other states have also issued similar rulings.

To sum it up, the victims of the alleged sexual abuse allegedly inflicted on them by priests and other members of the church have no recourse to sue in 2024 because it would be an infringement on the priests’ property rights, which includes the assurance that they cannot be held liable after the time period outlined in the statute of limitations.

It is understandable if this ruling doesn’t make sense. Others have argued against the ruling, indicating that the judge has stretched the meaning of property rights to apply to an issue that has little to do with the right to own possessions. In a dissenting opinion, Chief Justice John Weimer argues that the ruling “essentially elevates vested property rights (which are purely economic rights) above all other rights, including such fundamental rights as the rights to privacy, to free speech, and to freedom of religions and from racial discrimination.”

Cle Simon, an attorney representing the plaintiff, argued that the state’s Supreme Court “has overstepped its authority and usurped the authority of the legislative branch for doing what the legislative branch is constitutionally authorized to do.”

The plaintiff in the case is currently seeking to have the Louisiana Supreme Court hear the case again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ninth Circuit Hears Challenges to Bruen Response Bills

Delusional Michael Cohen Previews Testimony in Trump ‘Hush Money’ Case, Dons Tinfoil Hat