The Roman Catholic Church of the Diocese of Baton Rouge has been embroiled in an eight-and-one-half-year-long very contentious legal battle to defend the Seal of Confession. The diocese and Father Jeff Bayhi have prevailed in protecting the Seal of Confession. The case went from the district court in Baton Rouge, then to the Court of Appeals of the 1st Circuit, then to the Louisiana Supreme Court (twice) and to the US Supreme Court on a writ that was denied. 

The proceedings brought into question whether a civil court could decide for the Church what could be considered a confession. The religious liberties involved in the Seal of Confession are part of the fundamental teachings and doctrines of the Catholic Church. 

In a decision rendered by state district Judge Michael Caldwell of the 19th JDC on September 27, 2017, the court stated definitively that a civil court has no “subject matter jurisdiction” to hear or render a judgment concerning Church teachings and doctrine. A judgment was signed by the court on Feb. 9, 2018, dismissing the diocese and Father Bayhi from the lawsuit. Therefore, the diocese and Father Bayhi rejoice that a civil court has protected the religious liberties of the Church. The decision preserves the Seal and sanctity of the Confessional which the Church considers inviolable.