Profile in Courage: Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown Bravely Rejects Discrimination Against the Catholic Church

Jerry Brown : Gov. Jerry Brown

California Gov. Jerry Brown: Doing the right thing, even if unpopular. salutes California Gov. Jerry Brown for vetoing California Senate Bill 131 (SB 131), a measure which would have blatantly discriminated against the Catholic Church and purposefully made the Church vulnerable to a second round of civil lawsuits over abuse by Catholic clergy.

SB 131 would have opened up a one year "window" in 2014 allowing anyone over the age of 26 to sue the Catholic Church for damages stemming from clergy sex abuse no matter how long ago the allege abuse occurred. Suits would have been allowed even if the alleged activity took place many decades ago and even if the accused abuser were long ago deceased, thus making it nearly impossible for the Church to effectively defend itself in court.

(California already enacted such a "window statute" a decade ago, which led to the Catholic Church in California paying out about $1.2 billion in settlements because of the "window" year of 2003 determined by the state legislature.)

In addition, public institutions, such as local public schools, where rampant abuse and cover-ups are still happening today, would have been exempt from the wrath of SB 131 (just as they were exempt in 2003 also). SB 131 would have done nothing to protect children from abuse in public schools.

Bravo to Gov. Brown for doing the politically incorrect thing and seeing through this charade by contingency lawyers looking to further empty the coffers of the Catholic Church.

[Read Gov. Brown's veto message here.]

[See previously: "SB 131 EXPOSED: Media Highlights Church Opposition to California Bill" (7/24/13).]


  1. Geri says:

    I never thought I would agree with Jerry Brown about anything.


    Thanks TMR for bringing this to my attention!

  2. Mark says:

    Bravo, Gov Brown. A man of courage and integrity. I've e-mailed my appreciation to his office.

  3. Jim Robertson says:

    Bah humbug! One of Jerry Brown's biggest financial and political supporters has always been the church. He was after all a jesuit seminarian your god only knows wht he saw and or experienced as a seminarian.

    As I have said before Canada has no statutes of limitations on childhood sex abuse, niether criminal or civil limitations. Is Canada wrong for that or have the U.S. attornies and legislators for the church created the dellusion that verification is" immpossible to find ' after "all that time has passed" and passed such limited statutes according to their needs not their victins"?

  4. Julie says:

    Of course, the media pointed out that Brown was a seminarian. They were trying to imply bias. Thank goodness for some fair players in all of this.

  5. Julie says:

    Just a reminder to those who look only at the small percentage of evil, careerist, predatory or cowardly clergy and hierarchy, and say that is the Catholic Church, from Sherry Weddell:

    In 2011:

    Over 61 million children and young adults were educated in well over 200,000 Catholic institutions world-wide. About 2/3 of the universities were in the third world.

    The Church ran over 121,000 hospitals, orphanages, clinics, dispensaries, counseling centers, and homes for lepers, the elderly, and disabled.

    221,055 parishes and 190,000 missions provided formal and informal assistance.

    Imagine the consequences if these 730,000+ Catholic institutions disappeared suddenly from the planet?

    • Jim Robertson says:

      Well it seems the church cares about everybody but the people they've hurt. Quite the blindspot.

  6. Publion says:

    As I had mentioned on a previous thread, the (second) CA SOL-extension Bill passed that State’s Senate by only one vote, with many senators abstaining. So it would seem that Gov. Brown saw the political handwriting on the wall: the State Senate itself was not particularly enthusiastic (which fact, in the Catholic Abuse Matter, itself constitutes an eye-opening change).

    The Governor’s prior history (he did, after all, leave the Jesuits many decades ago, as a young man) thus seems of questionable relevance, at best. And if he “saw” whatever he might have seen or “experienced as a seminarian” then would that not have moved him toward signing the Bill? So the dots don’t connect in this regard, if the suggestion is seriously being made that he “saw” or “experienced” something in regard to matters sex-abusive.

    And are we now to accept with a straight face the characterization of “the U.S. attornies and legislators for the church” [sic]: first, this is not a matter for the U.S. Attorney (or even Attorneys) and holders of the relevant U.S. Attorney offices for California would not be involved in a State legislative matter; nor is it plausible that the U.S. Attorney or Attorneys for that State are “for the church”. This was a State issue – and that State’s legislators had already passed one SOL extension (and to what extent they found the results of that previous enactment such that they didn’t think it wise to pass another one … is certainly food for thought).

    Second, is it being suggested that simply because Canada (it is claimed here) has no SOLs on childhood sex abuse, then somehow that should govern American legislators? The California legislators – not readily characterizable as friendly to the Church – looked at the Bill and barely passed it, with many abstentions. California is not Canada and California legislators are not dealing-with or responsible-for Canada’s issues, but rather California’s.


    Can a law that was passed by Canadian legislators for Canada (or one of its Provinces?) be “wrong” for California or vice-versa? Can such a comparison even be rationally made?

    Third, a “dellusion” [sic] is more properly a term from the psychological/psychiatric domain; “illusion” might be more appropriate in this context. But – that being said – are we to presume that the California State Senate was under some sort of illusion here? The cold hard fact about the difficulty of ascertaining evidence after the passage of many years has been discussed on this site, extensively, several times. Further, the Anderson strategies were specifically designed to evade and avoid this problem (as D’Antonio’s book discusses in some detail). Further, such cases as we have been able to examine on this site certainly demonstrate that difficulty as well.

    Fourth, what “needs” do the California legislators have? They have a responsibility (and thus perhaps a ‘need’) to pass laws that respect the integrity of the judicial system and justicial process. And as we see in this recent Bill, they could barely muster enough support for a decision that another SOL extension was justified. Just what difficulties caused such a division among them … that is certainly food for thought.

    Fifth, perhaps they have come to the thought that there aren’t really that many genuine “victims” still ‘out there’, waiting in their myriads to lodge an allegation. (Conceivably, some of them might even entertain thoughts that there never were.)

    Sixth, the Bill – if I recall correctly – exempted government or public entities from any SOL-extension. That alone would have guaranteed constitutional objections, and not frivolous or insignificant ones. A Bill that distinguished alleged crimes merely by the venue in which they were committed  – i) public or ii) private, charitable or religious – certainly couldn’t be construed as a rational (let alone constitutional) candidate for enactment into sober legislation.

    Seventh, we see here again the echoes of the Victimist dogma that laws should be based not on the public need for rational and workable laws but rather on the “needs” (or demands) of the (alleged) victims. Perhaps we see in this California development the beginning of legislators’ concern that they have been passing laws for the wrong reason. That would be an interesting development indeed.

  7. Frank says:

    Governor Moonbeam done well.