In the ongoing court hearings for the protesters arrested during demonstrations against President Obama’s appearance at the University of Notre Dame, a deposition of a university official will further investigate claims of selective treatment of protesters.
In a pre-trial hearing Judge Michael Scopelitis of St. Joseph County Criminal Court ruled that attorneys with the Thomas More Society may take a deposition from the former director of residential life at the university. The official’s duties included the direct supervision of the campus police and the campus’ protest policies.
The deposition is intended to reveal whether homosexual activists and anti-military protesters were treated more leniently than the pro-life protesters known as the “ND 88.” The protesters’ lawyers have argued that there was selective enforcement of the trespass law, saying this “viewpoint discrimination” violated the defendants’ constitutional rights, the Thomas More Society reports in a press release.
Notre Dame’s campus security chief was deposed last month to discuss the arrests.
Among the ND 88 were political activist and former ambassador Alan Keyes, Norma McCorvey of the landmark Roe v. Wade case, and Fr. Norman Weslin. Demonstrators prayed the Rosary and sang hymns on campus in response to Notre Dame’s invitation of President Barack Obama to deliver the 2009 commencement address and to receive an honorary degree.
According to the Thomas More Society, topics of inquiry could include reports that the former residential life director, a strong pro-lifer, was fired last month. The society says he appears to remain employed at the university in another role.
The prosecutor in the cases has asked Judge Scopelitis to require that all the defendants return to South Bend for each and every hearing leading up to their trials. He has also asked to try defendants together in groups. Tom Dixon, special counsel for the Thomas More Society and lead defender for the ND 88, opposed both motions. ND 88 attorneys have renewed their request for the “global” dismissal of all charges against all defendants.