Friday 19th April 2019

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . The Proper Response To The College Admissions Scandal

April 11, 2019 Featured Today No Comments


(Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly]. He is a professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also cofounder and president of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists and a lawyer.
(Among his books are: Liberalism, Conservatism, and Catholicism; The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic; Catholicism and American Political Ideologies, and a Catholic political novel, American Cincinnatus. This column originally appeared in and is reprinted with permission. The views expressed here are his own.)

+ + +

The college admissions scandal that hit the news a few weeks ago has generated shock, a lot of commentary, and many calling for the heads of the rich and prominent who tried to get special treatment for their offspring.
We need, however, to take a sober look at the legal response to this and what the scandal tells us about the state of American higher education. Such a happening rightly angers people — not the least for the rank opportunism, favoritism, and immorality displayed — but we must be cautious about letting outrage justify an improper response.
There are a number of problematic and troubling questions about the criminal investigation and prosecution spearheaded by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts. The first is that it is certainly irregular for a U.S. attorney to pursue investigations and action outside of his jurisdiction. Here, he is seeking indictments of people for alleged acts all over the country.
This is comparable — and maybe has been encouraged — by the current readiness of federal district judges to issue injunctions that (they claim) apply nationwide. This goes against the clear understanding of how the legal process works in the federal system.
Secondly, the U.S. attorney’s action conjures up questions of motivation. As Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton wrote almost twenty years ago, U.S. attorneys are notorious for their focus on securing convictions — and advancing themselves — irrespective of doing justice. This is, to say the least, an uncommon kind of matter for a U.S. attorney’s office to take up. So, why did they get into it?
The prominent people in question — and it is likely there will be more indictments, perhaps mostly of parents of students — have been accused primarily of mail fraud, honest services fraud, and conspiracy.
Charges of these two types of fraud have generated much controversy: mail fraud because it has become an all-purpose offense to charge someone with when there is nothing else to reach for and honest services fraud because of its vagueness.
As far as conspiracy is concerned, one can be charged with it even if a planned crime was never actually committed. Again, it’s an all-purpose offense that can make it easier to ensnare people who are targeted. Some of the charges involve federal racketeering laws, which again have sometimes been used in a manner far beyond their original purpose of going after organized crime.
Some media reports talked about this case involving bribery, but the crime of bribery involves offering money or some other valuable thing to public officials or public decision-makers to get desired actions from them. That is not at all in question in the admissions scandal.
There seems in all this to be a ring of the Mueller investigation of Russian “collusion” in the 2016 presidential campaign. It was a major criminal investigation even though there no such thing as a crime of collusion.
The prosecutorial practices seemed additionally troubling when it was revealed that the apparent ringleader in the scandal, Rick Singer — who set up both for-profit and tax-exempt organizations to supposedly counsel and help high school students and their parents about college admissions and proceeded to pursue the underhanded methods — copped a plea and was wired by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in order to ensnare the prominent parents who sought his help.
Normally, it’s the accomplices who are the plants to snare the ringleader, not the other way around. It makes one wonder if the aim was not especially to target these prominent people. What was driving the prosecutorial team’s thinking?
The best take one can have on it is that the prosecutors saw a problem — which they learned about in an investigation on an unrelated matter — and thought they just had to do something about it (and of course the vague federal statutes made it possible for them to proceed). However, were they somehow influenced by the attitudinal ambience that has taken hold in our political discourse where slamming the rich and even touting socialism have become respectable? As far as the ringleader goes, however, his cooperation with prosecutors may have been motivated by the fact that he faced up to 65 years behind bars. Some people might say, “Sock it to him — he deserves it.”
One should pause even about this, however, considering that the average sentences actually served by first-degree murderers is 17 years. Does this perhaps illustrate how disproportionate and unreasonable criminal sentencing has become, especially perhaps for white-collar crimes? One wonders, again, if this is motivated by justice or a desire to “get” a certain class of people.
Maybe another issue should be considered in this case — which often seems to get little attention from prosecutors, judges, and others in the criminal justice system. If people like those charged so far in this probe — noted actresses, financiers, and the like — are sent to jail, could they become particular targets for assault, brutality, and the like from some elements of the prison population? Shouldn’t this be even more a concern when it’s quite unclear that the alleged actions actually were in any true sense federal crimes? What was going on was reprehensible, but that doesn’t justify twisting the law to address it.
The ability of U.S. attorneys to use vague statutes in order to pursue questionable prosecutions raises a deeper question: Aren’t we long overdue for a general revision of the increasingly expansive federal criminal code?
So, what should the response be to the scandal? Is there anything the law can do? Without stretching and twisting, the federal criminal law is not the place to turn. One would know if the criminal law of the states where the corruption occurred could be applicable only by examining their criminal codes.
If the law is to be turned to at all, the civil law seems more appropriate. Students who thought they easily met admissions requirements but were turned down when the others were illicitly admitted might be able to sue at tort law for fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, and possibly even for negligence in not properly controlling their employees who acted improperly.
It is even conceivable that contract law could be turned to since the universities in question didn’t uphold the stated grounds in their catalogues and other informational materials for student admission. Such suits would not be easy to win, but highly qualified students who were turned away and could show a connection to the abuses might be able to prevail. State governments could also sue the institutions on other grounds, perhaps under consumer protection and false advertising laws. Both aggrieved students and the federal and state governments could bring suit against Singer’s organizations and even move to shut them down.
The class action suits being filed by students who were refused admission by the universities are perhaps a stretch, however. Proving that all the members of large group of students were refused admission because of the alleged favoritism and payouts would be difficult to prove.
A complication of such possible civil suits is that courts might be reluctant to wade into something which could open the door to floods of suits in the future, challenging not only scandalous behavior like here and quiet advantages given to the children of big donors — “legacy admissions” — but also potentially suits from many aggrieved parents who might believe, for whatever reason, that a school should have accepted their child. The courts hardly want to become substitute admissions offices for higher education institutions.
Otherwise, what might be the best way to address this scandal? First, the people employed by the institutions who took the payoffs should be summarily fired (as has already happened to some), denied their pension rights, and their names widely disseminated in the academic community and the media so they are permanently excluded from it and from any positions of trust elsewhere.
Next, the students who were illegitimately admitted should forthwith be dismissed and forbidden to reapply. Any credits they have earned should be negated and if they earned a degree or other credential it should be revoked. If that seems severe and almost unprecedented, it is better than their parents going to prison. It is also entirely logical: The students had no right to be at the universities in the first place so they could not legitimately take classes and earn credits.

Suppression Of Free Speech

Furthermore, it’s time for the accrediting agencies to get serious about restoring the integrity and true character of the higher education enterprise. They seem to spend most of their time nowadays forcing schools to do all manner of number-crunching and wasting time and manpower in meaningless assessment regimens that have hardly improved the quality of higher education.
In the meantime, they have nothing to say about the increasingly routine suppression of free speech and serious academic inquiry on campuses and have long since ceased to be concerned about the evisceration of the liberal arts. The scandal represents a serious assault on the integrity of higher education that should cause them to wake up.
The sensible response is that the accrediting agencies should put the schools on probation — just because they are “elite” institutions, they shouldn’t be above serious sanction — and require that they change their practices and put the necessary safeguards in place before their full accreditation can be restored. The NCAA should impose stiff sanctions on the schools where paid-off coaches wrangled to get students admitted as athletes even though they weren’t.
More basically, attitudes have to change. It’s time for a long-overdue consideration of what higher education is supposed to do. Instead of being captivated by “elite” colleges — where political correctness and suppression of free academic inquiry and debate now seem to be the order of the day — parents should look to schools where their children can truly be educated in the liberal arts tradition.
They should take note of what even some of the leading corporate executives say: They prefer to hire people who have had a liberal arts education.
Further, it’s time to stop the over-credentialism and get away from the false notion that a college degree is needed for so many kinds of jobs. That would go a long way toward mitigating the temptation that leads to scandals like this one.

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Fr. James Schall passed away today. A Jesuit priest & Georgetown professor, he served as mentor & model to a numberless many (including me). With penetrating insight & wit, he pointed us to Christ & those great Catholic minds we mustn't forget.

Fr. Schall, requiescat in pace.

Please pray for Raymond DeSousa today, who is a weekly Wanderer columnist who is undergoing serious surgery today.

We ban God from the public square. We murder His most innocent. We deny Him on the Sabbath. We disregard his commandments. Is it any wonder?

Load More...

Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., has died at the age of 91

Fr. James V. Schall, the prolific and much-beloved Jesuit, professor and author, died earlier today. His family states that “he was comfortable and at peace” at the time of his death. He was born in Pocahontas, Iowa, January 20, 1928.…Continue Reading

North Carolina Gov. vetoes bill requiring care for babies born alive after failed abortion

RALEIGH, April 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – North Carolina Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed legislation Thursday morning that would require abortionists to provide basic medical care to newborns who survive failed abortions, just days after the measure cleared the state legislature.…Continue Reading

How Cardinal Wuerl Misled the Papal Foundation

In 2017, Cardinal Donald Wuerl provided false and misleading information to the board of the Papal Foundation to secure a $25 million grant for the Istituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata (IDI), a scandal-plagued hospital in Rome. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro…Continue Reading

Since “Unplanned” Movie Released, 94 Abortion Clinic Workers Have Said They May Quit Their Jobs

Abby Johnson’s powerful conversion story is moving hearts inside the abortion industry. Chuck Konzelman, who is a co-writer/co-director of “Unplanned,” the new film detailing Johnson’s life, said nearly 100 abortion workers have reached out to them in the past few…Continue Reading

Franciscan University president resigns

Steubenville, Ohio, Apr 8, 2019 / 07:50 am (CNA).- Fr. Sean Sheridan, TOR, has resigned as president of Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. Fr. Sheridan informed the university’s trustees of his decision during a regular meeting of the board on…Continue Reading


Alumni of Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland and the Cardinal Newman Society are voicing their outrage at the school’s selection of Mark Shriver to deliver the 2019 commencement address while also receiving an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Shriver is president of the Save the…Continue Reading

Emails show Planned Parenthood behind California rule to make churches pay for abortions

Sacramento, Calif., Apr 5, 2019 / 03:01 pm (CNA).- A 2014 California rule forcing religious groups, including churches, to cover elective abortions for employees was the result of direct pressure from Planned Parenthood, internal emails have shown. On April 4,…Continue Reading

Notre Dame’s Catholic duty

On Wednesday, the LGBT Law Forum at the law school hosted an event featuring Jim Obergefell, Greg Bourke and Michael DeLeon, plaintiffs in the Supreme Court caseObergefell v. Hodges, which mandated that every state recognize same-sex marriage. The talk was co-sponsored…Continue Reading

Catholic priests in Poland burn alleged sacrilegious books including ‘Harry Potter,’ condemn magic

Polish Catholic priests condemning magic burned dozens of books they considered to be sacrilegious, including works from the “Harry Potter” series. The SMS from Heaven Foundation – an evangelical group – posted photos of the burning at Gdansk’s Mother of…Continue Reading

Vatican Life Academy: Parents must vaccinate, even if vaccines come from aborted babies

VATICAN CITY, March 26, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — In a stunning declaration, the Pontifical Academy for Life — now populated entirely with Pope Francis appointments — has urged parents to vaccinate their children, even if the vaccines are derived from aborted…Continue Reading

Cardinal DiNardo discharged from hospital, expected to make full recovery

Houston, Texas, Mar 21, 2019 / 08:59 am (CNA).- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston has been released from the hospital, following a mild stroke last week, his archdiocese announced March 20. The cardinal, who serves as president of the U.S.…Continue Reading

Montreal priest stabbed at Mass ‘eager’ to return

Montreal, Canada, Mar 23, 2019 / 03:19 pm (CNA).- Father Claude Grou is out of the hospital and grateful for the groundswell of support he received after he was stabbed by an assailant while celebrating a televised Mass at St.…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love


  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading


Tickets For Life

Today . . .

Cardinal Tobin: Catechism language ‘very unfortunate’ on homosexuality

Newark, N.J., Apr 18, 2019 / 10:54 am (CNA).- The Archbishop of Newark said Wednesday that the language used by the Catechism of the Catholic Church to describe homosexual acts is “very unfortunate,” adding that he hopes the Catechism will use different language in its discussion of homosexuality. “The Church, I think, is having its own conversation about what our faith has us do and say with people in relationships that are same-sex. What should…Continue Reading

Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral goes up in flames

PARIS, April 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Paris authorities are battling a fire in the city’s Notre Dame cathedral that broke out Monday, producing massive plumes of smoke billowing from the historic Catholic site. Authorities have cleared the area surrounding the cathedral as they battle flames “leap[ing] out besides its two bell towers,” NBC News reports. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has requested that passersby steer clear of the vicinity until further

Medical students in Africa outraged over U.S. based org enticing them to become abortionists

UGANDA, April 12, 2019, LifeSiteNews – A U.S. based pro-abortion group that misleadingly calls itself “Catholics for Choice” is enticing unsuspecting medical students in Africa’s most vibrant Catholic countries to become not only abortion promoters but even abortionists, according to medical students who attended a workshop hosted by the organization. Ugandan medical students recently became troubled when they realized too late that a seminar about “reproductive he

Full text of Benedict XVI essay: ‘The Church and the scandal of sexual abuse’


Vatican City, Apr 10, 2019 / 04:23 pm (CNA).- The following is a previously unpublished essay from Pope emeritus Benedict XVI: On February 21 to 24, at the invitation of Pope Francis, the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences gathered at the Vatican to discuss the current crisis of the faith and of the Church; a crisis experienced throughout the world after shocking revelations of clerical abuse perpetrated against minors. The extent and gravity of…Continue Reading

“Unplanned” Movie Stays in Top 10 With Surprisingly Strong 2nd Week at Box Office

The pro-life movie “Unplanned” finished in the Top 10 after a surprisingly strong 8th place finish at the box office this weekend. The film, which opened in theaters nationwide last week, follows the true story of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood director who became pro-life after watching a baby be aborted on an ultrasound screen. Despite a media blackout, a ‘R’ rating designed to discourage viewers and little coverage outside conservative media circles, “Unplanned” opened in 4th…Continue Reading


Dispute Over Papal Foundation’s $25 Million Grant Approval Continues

By KEVIN JONES VATICAN CITY (CNA) — Scrutiny continues for the U.S.-based Papal Foundation, amid questions of whether some of its grant activity was motivated by a desire to secure leniency for disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The ongoing controversy surrounds the foundation’s decision to make an unprecedented grant to a leading Italian hospital whose…Continue Reading

First Time In 300 Years… Rome’s Holy Stairs Are Uncovered

By HANNAH BROCKHAUS ROME (CNA) — The bare, white marble of Rome’s “Scala Sancta,” which are believed to be the stairs trod by Christ on the day of His trial and death, are now exposed and visible to pilgrims for the first time in almost 300 years. The stairs, encased in wood since the 1700s,…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . St. Peter Of Alcantara Tells Us How To Pray And Meditate

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Treatise on Prayer and Meditation, by St. Peter of Alcantara (212 pages, TAN Books & Publishers Inc., paperback and Kindle). Visit, or call 1-800-437-5876. St. Peter of Alcantara (1499-1562) was born in Spain, and became a Franciscan friar in a strict observance friary. He was ordained in 1524, and went…Continue Reading

Liberty Counsel Says Counseling Ban Violates Free Speech

ATLANTA — Liberty Counsel filed a brief April 11 in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in an appeal challenging the constitutionality of ordinances enacted by the City of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County, which prohibit minors from receiving voluntary counseling from licensed professionals to reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions or behaviors, or…Continue Reading

Talking About Pro-Life Progress

By FR. SHENAN J. BOQUET (Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted with permission of Human Life International, It first appeared at on April 8, 2019. Fr. Boquet is the president of HLI.) + + + “To claim the right to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: It is easy to get discouraged at the state of the Church these days, particularly at the decline in the number of Religious sisters from 181,000 in 1965 to about 47,000 today, which Fr. George Rutler blames partly on those orders which “accepted bad advice from misguided and misguiding theologians and leaders. Bishops often have been at fault,…Continue Reading

Holy Father . . . Approves Decrees Regarding Eight Candidates For Sainthood

By DEBORAH CASTELLANO LUBOV ROME (ZENIT) — Pope Francis on April 6 received in audience Angelo Cardinal Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. During the audience, the Supreme Pontiff authorized the same congregation to promulgate the decrees regarding: — The miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Donizetti Tavares de Lima, diocesan…Continue Reading

Faith In The Person Of Jesus

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Easter Sunday (YR C) Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37-43 Col. 3:1-4 John 20:1-9 Today we celebrate the most important day in the Church’s year. We know our Lord told His disciples that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and so enter into His glory. St. Peter speaks of this in the first reading and also…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Benedict XVI: “God Is Absent”

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Benedict XVI released a statement in German last week on the abuse crisis (see text elsewhere in this issue). It shows the extent of the crisis that, although he seeks to live in prayer and contemplation, he has chosen to speak out on this topic with the okay from Pope Francis. People are craving clear…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: For those parents and grandparents looking for good advice on how to educate children and young people about the tough moral issues of the day, may we recommend the book Made This Way by Leila Miller and Trent Horn. The chapter headings deal with Sex Outside of Marriage, Same-Sex Marriage, Divorce, Contraception, Abortion, Reproductive Technologies, Modesty, Pornography, Transgender…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Peter Of St. Joseph De Betancur

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Catholic Church is the largest provider of health care in the world. As of 2013, more than 40,000 hospitals, clinics, and homes for the elderly were run by the Catholic Church throughout the world. The pioneering work of many devout saints for centuries provided care for the sick and the homeless. To care for the sick…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Hugh The Great

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the 11th century, over 150 years before St. Francis of Assisi received the order from our Lord to “repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin,” the secular rulers sought to control the appointment of bishops, abbots, and even the Pope. During this period of simony and conflict, St. Hugh the Great entered…Continue Reading