TORONTO, June 27, 2005 The Ontario Superior Court today granted Marc Hall permission to discontinue his legal action against the Durham Catholic District School Board. The Catholic Civil Rights League regrets that this decision ends an opportunity to defend denominational school rights in court.
Marc Hall was the litigant in the 2002 prom date case when he sought and obtained an injunction permitting him to bring a male date to his high school prom, in violation of Catholic teaching. In addition to the injunction, he sought a declaration that the board had violated his rights under the Charter. The school board cited constitutional guarantees of its right to uphold Catholic teaching in all its operations.
In allowing the withdrawal of the case, reportedly because Hall lacks the funds to continue, Justice Bryan Shaughnessy said it is regrettable that the school board will not have the chance to make its case before the courts. I would note that injunction reasons are not normally accorded great weight because they are written on an urgent basis based on limited material and the legal issues, out of necessity, are dealt with in a cursory and preliminary manner.
Commenting on the withdrawal of the case, CCRL President Phil Horgan said the case has already done a good deal of harm in the eyes of public opinion, and noted that the impact made by the injunction will remembered more than the cautionary note in the current judgment about its limited precedent value.
The school board has been denied the ability to defend its constitutionally protected denominational rights, said Mr. Horgan. With the passage of Bill C-38, we fully expect more court challenges to the rights of Church-based institutions to uphold Catholic teachings on marriage and family life, and schools are vulnerable to such challenges because of their pivotal role in imparting morals and values.
This case could have helped set an important precedent about the denominational rights of schools in upholding Church teaching about the traditional definition of marriage, said Mr. Horgan.
Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244; firstname.lastname@example.org