United States Supreme Court Rejects Catholic Bishops Efforts to Overturn California Child Victims Act

Bishops Attempted to Overturn Law that Gives Survivors Legal Recourse for the Crimes Committed Against Them

(Washington, D.C.) – This morning, the United States Supreme Court denied the petition brought by many of the California Catholic Bishops to have the constitutionality of the California Child Victims’ Act reviewed.  On April 15, 2022, the following nine Catholic Bishops joined together in an effort to overturn the California Child Victims Act:

  • The Archbishop of Los Angeles
  • The Bishop of Orange
  • The Bishop of Fresno
  • The Bishop of Monterey
  • The Bishop of Oakland
  • The Bishop of Sacramento
  • The Archbishop of San Francisco
  • The Bishop of San Jose
  • The Bishop of Santa Rosa

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) also joined in the California Catholic Bishops’ efforts to keep survivors from having the opportunity to take legal action.  The USCCB is the organization that represents all of the Catholic Bishops in the United States. The US Supreme Court rejected the CA Bishops and USCCB’s efforts to overturn the California Child Victims Act.

“This is it. The Supreme Court has spoken – the perpetrators and those that chose to protect them will have to reckon,” said attorney Jeff Anderson.

In 2019 the California Legislature passed and Governor Gavin Newsom signed the California Child Victims Act (AB 218) into law. The law took away some of the harsh time limits that previously prevented survivors from taking action. The California Child Victims Act gives survivors of childhood sexual abuse a chance to bring their cases against their perpetrators and those that protected the perpetrators. Since then, thousands of survivors in California have come forward under the California Child Victims Act with claims against predators, schools, youth service organizations and Catholic Bishops. Hundreds of predators have been exposed through lawsuits.

In January 2021, California Roman Catholic Bishops filed motions in southern and northern superior courts asking judges to rule the California Child Victims Act (AB 218) as unconstitutional. In April 2021, Alameda Superior Court Judge Winifred Y. Smith ruled that the California Child Victims Act was not only constitutional but provided a detailed 51-page opinion explaining her analysis of the law. The California Bishops then sought to have the California Court of Appeals and later the California Supreme Court to rule that the California Child Victims Act is unconstitutional.  Both CA appellate courts rejected these efforts.  That is when the CA Catholic Bishops and USCCB attempted to have the US Supreme Court review the case.  The US Supreme Court’s denial of the Bishop’s petition allows survivors in California to move forward to expose perpetrators and uncover the buried secrets about child sex abuse in numerous organizations in California.

“Frankly, this was a hail Mary pass of religious hubris by the Catholic Bishops and largely the Catholic Church,” said Anderson.

The Catholic bishops filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking to overturn the California Child Victims Act, which gave survivors a chance to go to court and expose dangerous predators and the institutions that protect them.