SOUTH BEND, IN - MAY 17:  Anti-abortion activists demonstrate near the campus of Notre Dame University on May 17, 2009 in South Bend, Indiana. Activists from around the country have gathered in South Bend to protest the university's decision to invite President Barack Obama, who supports abortion rights, to deliver the commencement address today and to award him an honorary degree.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A judge in Indiana has approved a request to depose a key school administrator by lawyers representing the “Notre Dame 88,” pro-life activists who were arrested on orders from the Catholic university while they protested the school’s speaking invitation to the devoutly pro-abortion President Barack Obama.

The move is key to the Notre Dame 88’s defense, because when the famed university cracked down on the Obama critics, Notre Dame President John Jenkins issued a statement that all protesters were treated equally on campus.

However, William Kirk, former Notre Dame associate vice president for residential life who recently was dismissed, may have first-hand knowledge that the university previously allowed “gay” rights and anti-ROTC protesters to operate on campus without a permit and without any charges being filed, according to the Thomas More Society, which is working on the pro-life activists’ defense.

The organization reports that Kirk had served the university for many years but “was abruptly let go after it became public that, while Notre Dame had arrested and vigorously prosecuted pro-life demonstrators, in prior years the university filed no charges against gay rights and anti-ROTC activists who also had protested on campus without permission.”

In a WND column, former Ambassador Alan Keyes explained why he and others protested the university’s invitation to Obama, who has advocated even late-term and partial-birth abortions, to speak on its campus.

The university’s “action continues to resonate with evil, even as new evidence mounts of Obama’s unalterable commitment to spread and intensify the deadly perversion of moral logic involved in promoting so-called ‘abortion rights,'” he wrote.

“The Obama faction proposal for inaugurating the socialist takeover of the U.S. health sector has stirred deep moral opposition. People of decent conscience are appalled by the calculus of evil involved in provisions which implement cost-cutting health-care rationing that targets the elderly and war afflicted military veterans while increasing the availability of public money for the slaughter of innocent human offspring in the womb and the laboratory.

“They are revolted by provisions that point toward the substitution of heartless bureaucratic dictatorship for the free and at least potentially loving decisions of human individuals about matters of life and death for their close relations,” he wrote.

SOUTH BEND, IN - MAY 16:  A pro-life protestor is carried off by police after being arrested for trespassing on the campus of Notre Dame University on May 16, 2009 in South Bend, Indiana. Pro-life activists from around the country have been gathering in South Bend to protest the university's decision to invite President Barack Obama, who supports abortion rights, to deliver the commencement address tomorrow and to award him an honorary degree.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“The Notre Dame scandal contributes to an ongoing abuse of conscience that could result in U.S. government policies that implement an even more complete and pervasive promotion of the culture of death than we have already seen in the years since the Roe v. Wade decision,” Keyes said.

According to the Thomas More Society, St. Joseph County Circuit Court Judge Michael Scopelitis yesterday ruled that Kirk may be deposed by the “ND88” defense counsel.

“This represents a major victory for the defense and perhaps even a decisive turning point in this case,” said Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society.

The society had argued before Scopelitis that Kirk could shed light why Notre Dame had treated the pro-life protesters differently than others. As recently as January, “gay” rights activists had demonstrated on campus without an allegedly requisite written permit, the organization said. In sharp contrast, the 88 pro-life demonstrators have been arrested, jailed, charged with trespass and prosecuted.

The Thomas More Society has argued that the “ND88” were not criminal trespassers but victims of “viewpoint discrimination,” a violation of the First Amendment, which applied to Notre Dame security police as they exercised statutory arrest powers vested in them under Indiana state law.

The judge also rejected prosecution demands that all the protesters be subjected to a single trial and return to South Bend at least a week in advance of their court dates.

The judge also is requiring that the prosecution explain the case of a woman who was arrested for holding a pro-life sign at Notre Dame but who was not prosecuted.

Brejcha said the ideal solution would be for Notre Dame simply to drop the cases.

“We remain hopeful that Notre Dame will bring these ill-starred criminal misdemeanor proceedings to an early end, urging the county prosecutor to drop the charges. As Miss Norma McCorvey, the ‘Jane Roe’ in Roe v. Wade, and now one of the pro-life ND88 defendants likes to say, ‘You can’t just talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.’ Notre Dame must do more than merely say that it is pro-life. It ought to spend its energy and resources in defending the civil rights of the unborn victims of abortion, rather than devoting all this time, effort and resources in defense of its supposed property rights,” he said.

Keyes wrote, “Will anything ever be done to curtail the ongoing spiritual and moral damage being daily inflicted by this scandal? Will anything ever be done to forestall the persecution of fellow Catholics and Christians still being pursued at the behest of Notre Dame’s president and other responsible officials? I am told that, like Pontius Pilate, Notre Dame President John Jenkins professes to have washed his hands of the matter, repenting neither of the scandal nor the persecution perpetrated in an attempt to discredit and silence the voices of conscience. Such abuse of power, in contempt for the authority of God and the Church, is itself another public episode of scandal, repeated anew with every day that passes. …”

WND reported at the time that a pro-life group warned it may issue the University of Notre Dame its “Collaborators” designation, reserved for the worst offenders in the war over abortion, because of the school’s invitation to President Obama to speak at commencement.

In a letter to university officials, Leslie Hanks, chief of the Collaborators Project, wrote:

“Because Notre Dame has extended the extraordinary honor of speaking at one of America’s foremost Catholic colleges to one with such cavalier disregard for the sanctity of life, social tension is increasing exponentially in your community.

“Collaborators Project was founded to do precisely that. Our motto is, ‘No Child Killing with Tranquility.'”


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