April 27th, 2009
02:43 PM ET
12 years ago

Harvard professor backs out of honor, ceremony over Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/27/art.bochurch0427.gi.jpg caption="A Harvard Law School professor has decided not to participate in Notre Dame's graduation ceremony because President Obama will be speaking at the event."]
(CNN) – Harvard Law School professor Mary Ann Glendon is turning down an award from the University of Notre Dame because she disagrees with the Catholic institution's decision to invite President Obama to deliver this year's commencement address.

The conservative, pro-life academic explained her decision not to attend the commencement ceremony and not to accept the Laetare Medal from the university in a letter to Notre Dame's president.

"I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree," Glendon wrote in the letter. She also said that she considered the decision to give Obama an honorary degree a violation of a request from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that Catholic institutions not honor individuals who act in defiance of the church's fundamental principles or give awards or platforms that suggest support for the actions of such individuals. Glendon, who described herself as a "longtime consultant" for the group of bishops, said the group's directive was "reasonable."

Glendon also said in the letter that she was concerned by the university's use of her planned involvement in the graduation ceremony as a way to balance Obama's appearance.

A commencement "is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame's decision . . . to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church's position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice," Glendon told Notre Dame's president.

After pointing out that Notre Dame's decision appeared to be setting an example that other Catholic institutions were following, the Harvard professor said it was "with great sadness" that she had decided she could not participate in the graduation ceremony nor accept the medal from the university.

Obama is also set to deliver the commencement address at Arizona State University and the U.S. Naval Academy.

Filed under: Abortion • President Obama
soundoff (279 Responses)
  1. steve

    It's nice to see somebody standing by their convictions in this day and age. Well done Miss Glendon. Nice to see it's a decision not above a good professor's pay grade.

    April 27, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  2. Angela

    When do we get to the point that we cannot control everyone and everything. She is entitled to her opinion and everyone else is entitled to theirs.

    April 27, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  3. Dennis

    It's good to see that some people have principles that can't be swayed by the office of the President.

    April 27, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  4. Mia and Mike

    Who cares what she thinks!! I've never even heard of her.

    April 27, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  5. Ted van Tol

    Well, thats the support Barack deserves.
    My complements Mrs Glendon!

    April 27, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  6. munchmom

    Good for you!

    April 27, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  7. Marge

    Never heard of her...and don't want to.

    April 27, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  8. Ivan Schiff

    I can just picture the firestorm that would have erupted in the conservative world had this happened to President Bush.

    April 27, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  9. Tom Amlie

    Time for the caring, compassionate, and tolerant liberals at Harvard to run her out of town on a rail!

    April 27, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  10. No Incumbents 2010

    Mary Ann Glendon...taking cheap shots at anyone who disagrees with her religious views.

    This is not the example of love, tolerance and forgiveness which Jesus taught.

    I guess everyone must agree with her or she will become part of the right-wing attack machine.

    April 27, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  11. dennisk

    I'm sure Prof. Glendon would love to live in a theocracy... as long as it followed her beliefs.
    Much to her dismay, this is AMERICA, where people have FREEDOM to believe–or not believe–as they choose.
    Religious ideologues like this person are no different from the Taliban in my book.

    April 27, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  12. Chas

    Get a life!

    April 27, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  13. Reality

    I'm sure plenty of people will rip her on this blog, but you have to respect a woman that stands up for her beliefs.

    April 27, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  14. Teena

    So, stay home and sulk!

    April 27, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  15. lucy

    Good God....
    "setting an example".. of what? Is it because this president is black?

    April 27, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. Minnesotan

    So, allowing torture and killing hundred's of thousands of innocent civillians to die for a war of choice is more Christian than allowing a woman the right to choose??

    Liberal left leaning Dem's are advocates of an end to torture and ending bloody violent wars and then are locked out of so called Catholic ceremonies due to their position on allowing women the right to choose... while the warmongering chicken hawks who advocate death to "our enemies" even with lots of collateral damage but are also against a women's right to choose are the preferred speakers.... Christianity is turned up on its head and does not have a prayer in this country.

    Who would Jesus bomb/torture?

    April 27, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  17. Jeff W.

    Can you imagine? We have a history-in-the-making president and this dope, Mary Ann Glendon, boycotts him because she subscribes to magic and superstition rather than logic. What's funny is that she probably would have embraced Bush because he's pro-life, even though Bush is responsible for countless lives lost in two senseless wars.

    April 27, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  18. The Death of America by Obama

    obama is and always will be a disgrace to this country.

    April 27, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  19. johnny

    I'm sure everybody is crushed and crestfallen. Wait, who is this woman? Who gives a rat's behind?

    April 27, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  20. podo3500

    Pro life actions should be shown between ones beliefs and God's Perfect principles. Being Pro-life should never be used politically as Mary Ann Glendon is doing. Don't know why republicans go to the White house to drink fine wine, only to return to the congress to vote no with the back of their fingers. One doesn't need a Dr degree to become a Christian neither can one proclain Godlihood by being Pro-Life.

    April 27, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  21. Jane

    Its her right to back out; it says a lot about just how intolerant the extreme right & extreme have become. She's spiting herself to get her 15 minutes of fame (or is it 5 minutes)?

    April 27, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  22. Justin

    Someone needs to tell Ms. Glendon that President Obama is NOT Catholic and is not required to adhere to the church's belief system. Is it any wonder that catholicism is on the decline? Their authoritarianism is a disgrace.

    April 27, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  23. kirsten

    And where was this lady when G.W. was there? How many people did he execute? Isn't that also against church doctrine? What is wrong with these people?

    April 27, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  24. CF

    I bet the hypocrites wouldnt have a problem inviting a Republican to speak who supported the war, supports the death penalty, is against lifesaving universal healthcare and medical research, and against gun control. "Pro-Life" is a joke. The only life they care about is that inside someone else's uterus.

    April 27, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  25. Jennie

    My response – WAAAHHHHHHHH!!! She is obviously a well educated woman, but her mind is closed like a steel trap when she doesn't agree with the opinions of others. So be it, don't accept, take your toys and go home. How could someone smart be so stupid at the same time?

    April 27, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
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