The Queque’s wall of constitutional heroes is getting improbably crowded in this chicken-hearted time. Alongside our Thomas Kinkade-esque portrait of U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero — who ruled last month that the government needs to obtain court approval to get its hands on internet and phone records — we’re making room for a majestic profile of U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken of Oregon, who ruled last week for checks and balances and agin black-bag fishing expeditions. No, the government’s effort to recast the Foreign Intelligence Service Act in the shape of the Patriot Act simply won’t do in a consitutional democracy, said Aiken. The guv’ment “is asking this court to, in essence, amend the Bill of Rights, by giving it an interpretation that would deprive it of any real meaning. The court declines to do so,” she wrote in that understated legalese suitable both for defending democracy and reminding certain local telecom giants that they were, like, total tools. The Justice Department is as usual “reviewing the opinion,” noted the news agencies, which brings to mind a room of head-scratchin’ monkeys, but also the specter of a Supreme Court challenge.
OK, as much as the Queque loves the cleansing power of sunlight in the justice system (and the ennobling palette of latter-day Painter of Light Kinkade) we also admit that sometimes a little secrecy might be warranted — say when when it comes to the identities of childhood victims of sexual abuse. So argued Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests in front of Central Catholic last week. SNAP held a press conference before the 150-year-old Marianist school to protest the religious order’s failed effort to make 20 plaintiffs in lawsuits against former Central band director Brother William C. Mueller reveal their identities.
“We’re here today because the Catholic organization that runs this school, the Marianists, are playing legal hardball,” said SNAP Director David Clohessy, which rankles hard on the heels of a 2005 letter that soft-peddled Mueller’s alleged crimes (more than 50 to date, in Colorado, Missouri, and Tejas) to alumni at his former places of employment. Mueller, who taught at Central Catholic in the ’70s, has admitted to performing “experiments” on students at various schools that involved blindfolds, dark rooms, and ether, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. The Queque’s education was by comparison, wonderfully mundane.
“We want to publicly urge Central Catholic staff and Catholic officials to write another letter to alumni from this school, and come clean about Brother Mueller’s crimes and the Marianist cover-up,” said Clohessy. “We also want to urge anybody that was victimized by Brother Mueller or by any other Catholic cleric to break their silence and come forward to get help, because abuse thrives in secrecy.” •