NEW HAVEN, Conn. — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg refused yesterday to halt the release of thousands of documents generated by lawsuits against six priests for alleged sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Diocese in Connecticut.
Ginsburg yesterday denied the Bridgeport diocese's emergency request to continue a stay on the release of the papers until the full court decides whether to review the case, Rosado v. Bridgeport Roman Catholic Diocesan Corp. et al.
Ralph Johnson III, a lawyer for the diocese, said church officials were considering whether to ask all nine justices to rule on the request.
The diocese said on its Web site yesterday afternoon that it was disappointed with Ginsburg's ruling and that it "intends to proceed with its announced determination to ask the full U.S. Supreme Court to review the important constitutional issues that this case presents."
Jonathan Albano, an attorney for three newspapers that have requested the documents, said Ginsburg’s denial compelled the diocese to release the documents, but he acknowledged the church could ask the full court to reconsider Ginsburg's decision.
"At the end of the day, the diocese will be able to say they were heard before every court that was available to them," Albano said.
Albano represents The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post. The three papers along with the Hartford Courant have asked to see the documents.
A Waterbury Superior Court said in 2006 that the documents were subject to a presumption of public access. And the Connecticut Supreme Court upheld the lower court decision, ruling that more than 12,000 pages from 23 lawsuits against the six priests should be unsealed.
The Connecticut high court also rejected the claim by church officials that the documents were subject to constitutional privileges, including religious privileges under the First Amendment.
The records have been under seal since the diocese settled the cases in 2001. They could provide details on how retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan handled the allegations when he was bishop in Bridgeport from 1988 to 2000.
The documents include depositions, affidavits and motions.