This week, the Catholic Church spoke out against the controversial Arizona immigration law, SB 1070, citing a conflict with its First Amendment right to religious liberty. While Fox News extensively covered the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' attacks on President Obama's requirement that health insurance cover contraception costs, it has not done the same for the bishops' argument that SB 1070 is a threat to religious liberty.
On March 26, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and religious figures filed an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court case of Arizona v. United States in which the bishops stated their opposition to portions of SB 1070. The bishops argued that SB 1070 infringes upon the Church's religious liberty by inhibiting the Church's mission to serve immigrants.
From the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' news release on the amicus brief:
"The Conference has a strong interest in ensuring that courts adhere to two important goals of federal immigration law--the promotion of family unity and the protection of human dignity," the brief stated. "The provisions of SB 1070 at issue in this case would hinder these critical federal objectives by replacing them with the single goal of reducing the number of undocumented immigrants in Arizona at all costs."
The brief said that state laws such as SB 1070 threaten to restrict the Church's ability to provide pastoral and social service care to immigrants and their families, thus infringing upon the Church's religious liberty.
"The Catholic Church's religious faith, like that of many religious denominations, requires it to offer charity--ranging from soup kitchens to homeless shelters--to all in need, whether they are present in this country legally or not. Yet SB 1070 and related state immigration laws have provisions that could....criminalize this charity... [or] exclude from that charity all those whose presence Arizona and other states would criminalize," the brief argued.
The brief asked the Supreme Court to affirm the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in striking down the Arizona law.
Read the amicus brief in its entirety here.
Catholic bishops had previously argued that Obama's mandate that healthcare insurance cover the costs of women's reproductive health impinged on their religious liberty. Even though Catholic hospitals, colleges, and charities as well as the majority of American Catholics supported Obama's policies, Fox News repeatedly hyped the bishops' claim.
In contrast, even though the Supreme Court heard arguments on Arizona v. United States on April 25, a search of Nexis and closed captioning transcripts* of Fox News programming since March 23 returned zero examples of Fox discussing the Catholic bishops' stance on SB 1070.
*We searched Fox News Nexis and closed captioning transcripts starting on April 23 for the words "Catholic" or "bishop" and then reviewed each segment in which the words appeared to see if the bishops' arguments or the amicus brief came up. We found no such examples.