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Judge Allows 2 Church Groups to Enter Prop. 187 Court Fight : Law: Participation by Catholic organizations is granted despite state attorney’s objection that their involvement is redundant.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Despite opposition from the state attorney general’s office, a federal district judge Monday allowed two Catholic Church-related groups to enter the court battle against Proposition 187.

The California Assn. of Catholic Hospitals and the Catholic Health Assn. of the United States told Judge Mariana R. Pfaelzer that they sought to intervene on theological and legal grounds to help quash the illegal immigration ballot measure, which is enjoined by federal and state courts.

We “have a moral obligation as Catholic institutions to provide medical care to all persons, regardless of citizenship,” their legal papers read. “Health care ultimately is an elemental human need. Each person receiving health care should be treated with respect and dignity, and that treatment must embody the value of life.”

The state association is composed of 44 acute care hospitals and medical clinics across California, including St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles and St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood.

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At the brief court hearing, Deputy Atty. Gen. James F. Ahern argued that the hospitals’ entry in the court case would be redundant because Pfaelzer had already granted permission to the city of Los Angeles to intervene.

“It essentially replicates a lot of the (city’s) grounds,” Ahern said, “with a theological gloss.”

Pfaelzer replied that the Catholic hospitals “put up some better reasons for intervening than the city did.” She did agree that she probably would restrict the entry of additional parties opposed to Proposition 187 in the lawsuits filed by civil rights legal organizations.

“That’s about the end of it,” said Pfaelzer, adding that other potential intervenors would have to put forth particularly unique legal reasons.

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This being Los Angeles, Ahern replied sardonically, anyone can come up with a novel reason for doing anything.

“I’m aware of that,” Pfaelzer said.

After the hearing, lawyers for the Catholic groups said they will provide expertise about the potential impact on hospitals of regulations that the state is preparing to enact as a result of Proposition 187.

Pfaelzer has allowed the state to continue readying its regulations but has ordered that they not be made public because of the injunction that she issued last month.

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Citing possible constitutional problems with the sweeping initiative, Pfaelzer barred key portions--including bans on public elementary and secondary education, non-emergency health care and social services for illegal immigrants--from taking effect while a trial is pending.


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