by Steven Ertelt
June 7, 2006
Wilmington, DE (LifeNews.com) — A teacher at a private Catholic school fired for signing a newspaper advertisement promoting abortion lost her appeal in her lawsuit against the school. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court ruling in the case saying the woman’s rights were not violated when the school fired her.
Ursuline Academy, a private Catholic school in Wilmington, fired Michele Curay-Cramer after she lent her name to a pro-abortion signature ad. She filed a lawsuit saying the school violated her First Amendment free speech rights.
But Circuit Court Judge Jane Roth, writing for a three-judge panel of the appeals court, upheld the district court opinion tossing her lawsuit.
Before the court heard the appeal, Curay-Cramer’s attorney, Thomas Neuberger, told the News Journal newspaper, "We hope to ultimately prevail because we believe that since 1990 the Supreme Court has ruled that such institutions are not exempt from the civil rights laws."
Curay-Cramer expected controversy when she attached her name to a signature ad sponsored by a local Planned Parenthood. Her name appeared with 600 other local residents in support of the thirtieth anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
The ad was the first time she went public with her involvement with the nation’s largest abortion business, where she had started volunteering in April 2002.
Ursuline Academy officials said she should have been aware of the school’s strong stance against abortion when she got involved promoting it.
"The Catholic Church is very much pro-life," said former Ursuline spokesman Jerry Botto. "This is an area of the church where there is no gray area — it’s black-and-white. In keeping with that, that is something we teach here."
Curay-Cramer’s lawsuit claims that the firing is a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1979. The school disputes her claims.
U.S. District Judge Kent A. Jordan previously dismissed three of the lawsuit’s six counts. He also threw out charges that the firing violated Delaware law, but Curay-Cramer can still take her lawsuit to state court regarding them.
School attorney Barry Willoughby said the school has a right to ensure that its teachers follow the principles and values it upholds.
"What she did is fundamentally at odds with what the church teaches and what the school is trying to instill in young students," Willoughby indicated.
School President Barbara Griffin said she was "shocked" when Curay-Cramer’s name appeared on the pro-abortion advertisement. The school sent a letter explaining her dismissal to parents.
Curay-Cramer, who taught English at the school, now teaches out of state.
Named in the original November 2003 lawsuit are Ursuline Academy’s former president and communications director, the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington and Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli.
Related web sites:
Catholic Diocese of Wilmington – https://www.cdow.org