Pro-Life Groups Ask Notre Dame to Drop Charges Against Obama Protestors

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 13, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Groups Ask Notre Dame to Drop Charges Against Obama Protestors

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 13
, 2010

South Bend, IN ( — Now that a local judge has recused herself from the case involving the pro-life advocates arrested at the University of Notre Dame for protesting the honorary degree and commencement speech of pro-abortion President Barack Obama, two pro-life groups want the school to drop the charges.

As reported yesterday, Judge Jenny Pitts Manier, assigned to the ND88 case, removed herself from it.

She is married to pro-abortion Notre Dame professor Edward Manier and stepped down after Thomas More Society attorney Tom Dixon, who is representing the dozens of pro-life advocates involved, filed two motions asking Judge Manier to step down and appealed her earlier decision not to do so.

Now, Human Life International and the Thomas More Society have launched a new petition asking that University of Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins and Notre Dame officials drop the charges.

"During the Obama scandal controversy, Fr. Jenkins repeatedly assured us that he and Notre Dame are 100% pro-life," HLI president and Notre Dame alumn Fr. Thomas Euteneuer told today.

"Asking that the charges be dropped will cost Fr. Jenkins absolutely nothing, but it could save the ND88 from a protracted trial process, and possible jail time. As long as this situation persists with Notre Dame’s cooperation, how can Fr. Jenkins possibly expect us to take him seriously?" Euteneuer asked.

The pro-life advocates in question are those who traveled to the South Bend, Indiana campus to protest the university’s honoring of Obama.

In many cases, their "protest" took the form of walking onto campus and praying or carrying pro-life signs. At the same time, witnesses report that pro-Obama demonstrators were allowed to roam free throughout the campus.

Now the ND88 are facing charges of trespassing, with a maximum sentence of up to a year in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.

"Notre Dame seriously tarnished its image as a pro- life institution when it honored President Obama earlier this year," said Tom Brejcha, chief counsel at the TMS pro-life legal group.

He told, "However, it is not too late for the university to restore its pro-life reputation. The first step in that direction would be to stop the persecution of these pro-life heroes by asking that the charges be dropped."

While Fr. Jenkins has responded to concerned pro- lifers by claiming that Notre Dame does not have the power to ask that the charges be dropped, Brejcha called such claims "flatly wrong."

"They always have the power to ask," he said, adding that Notre Dame’s asking, "would have great weight with the prosecutor."

Brejcha said, however, that despite repeated requests Fr. Jenkins has continued to refuse to do so.

"It is important for pro-lifers to let Fr. Jenkins know that we have not forgotten what happened on his campus last May," said Brejcha. "We have not forgotten, and we will not forget as long as the ND88 are being forced to pay such a steep price simply for standing up for the pro-life values that Jenkins and Notre Dame profess to hold."

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