Supreme Court Asked to Take Milwaukee Archdiocese Cemetery Dispute

By Tom Corrigan
Wall Street Journal
July 7, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to weigh in on a dispute over whether the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee may shield a $55 million cemetery maintenance trust from hundreds of alleged clergy sexual-abuse victims seeking compensation.

A lawyer for the cemetery trust said Tuesday that the trust filed a petition asking the Supreme Court for a final ruling on the fate of the cemetery funds. The move aims to appeal a March ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit that a trust created to maintain the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s cemeteries isn’t subject to federal laws protecting religious freedoms.

The appeals court’s ruling “leaves religious freedoms vulnerable to encroachment by federal laws asserted in private litigation,” lawyers for the cemetery trust wrote in the petition. “And it forces the scores of religious organizations that file under chapter 11 each year to choose between sacrificing their religious freedoms or facing financial ruin.”

If the Seventh Circuit’s ruling stands, it could help more than 500 victims of alleged sexual abuse by the archdiocese’s clergy argue that the funds should be included in the compensation they will receive as part of the archdiocese’s long-running bankruptcy.








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