The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by the Vatican in the case of Holy See v. John Doe, which allows the case to proceed in an Oregon court. Brought by infamous sex-abuse lawyer Jeffrey Anderson, the case involves allegations of abuse against a priest, Fr. Andrew Ronan, who died in 1992.
There are two surprising and disturbing aspects to the Court’s decision. Lower federal courts have accepted Anderson’s arguments that the Vatican, though a sovereign state, is not covered by the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act, and that priests should be considered employees of the Vatican, rather than of their dioceses. (In a similar case in Kentucky, a lawyer has made the argument that bishops are employees of the Vatican, in order to try to convince a federal judge to allow him to force Pope Benedict XVI to give a deposition.)
The idea that a U.S. court could have jurisdiction over a foreign state is ridiculous on its face, and anyone who knows anything about the structure of the Catholic Church could testify that priests are not employees of the Vatican. Why, then, did the Supreme Court let the lower-court decision stand?