IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. Continue reading
On July 4, 1864 Abraham Lincoln had much to pre-occupy his mind. Grant’s drive on Richmond had bogged down into a stalemated siege to the south of Richmond around the city of Petersburg. Grant, due to the appalling Union casualties of the campaign, was routinely denounced as a butcher in Northern newspapers, a charge echoed privately by Mary Todd Lincoln. On June 27 Sherman had been bloodily repulsed at Kennesaw Mountain, and his campaign against Atlanta appeared to be very much in doubt. Lincoln suspected that he would not be re-elected and that the Union might very well lose the war. So what did he do on July 4? He, along with Mrs. Lincoln and most of his cabinet, attended a fundraiser held on the White House lawn to build a Catholic church!
An astounding piece by Lisa Davis at the resolutely pro-abort New York Times. A young artist becomes pregnant and decides to film her abortion. Her plans suddenly begin to unravel due to a cab driver and his reaction to the news that she is on her way to have an abortion:
I stuffed my Ricoh Hi8 video camera in my backpack, and I went alone.
The driver was Middle Eastern, from some hot and weather-less country, but he did a fair job of steering into the skids. He kept asking me why I was going out in such weather.
“I have to go to the doctor,” I kept telling him.
“Why? You don’t look sick.”
“I have to have a procedure.”
“What? What procedure?”
Finally, I told him. Why not? I was proud and un-conflicted. I was exercising my right. I was making a video.
He pulled over to the side of the road, right there on the Brooklyn Bridge — not only illegal but dangerous. “Please don’t kill the baby,” he said. “Please don’t kill the baby.”
“What are you doing?”
“Don’t kill the baby.” He wouldn’t move the car, though horns blared all around us.
“Keep driving! I have an appointment!” I shook his headrest. This was not part of the script.
“Please don’t kill the baby,” he said again, turning around to face me. He had beautiful big brown eyes — almost black. “I will take care of you and the baby. I work two jobs.”
Heartbreakingly she has her abortion:
The first thing I thought when I awoke from the anesthesia was that I’d never be pregnant again, that I had just squandered my only chance at motherhood. I was sobbing — I had arisen from the depths of the medication this way — as they rolled me into the recovery room where the other women were lying, almost all of them with a friend or partner or relative to brush their hair back or offer them ice chips. I could not stop crying, big heaves and gulps of it. The nurse came over at first to soothe me and then to quiet me.
“You’re upsetting the other girls,” she said.
She sent the doctor over. “Sometimes we have to massage the womb,” he said, inserting his hand inside me and pressing. This did not stop the crying, but eventually it stopped the pain.
Or, at least, it stopped the physical pain. The begging cabdriver and the woman on her ninth abortion and the shocking suction in my womb: It was too traumatic for me to make art of. Or maybe it was just that I wasn’t a good enough artist to transform that level of trauma into something that others could learn from and use. I had been taught that a woman’s right to choose was the most important thing to fight for, but I hadn’t known what a brutal choice it was.
I took a car service home, too, where my brother and his girlfriend met me and we ordered in. “We would have gone with you,” they said, “if you’d asked.”
“I was going to make a video,” I said. Reacting to the way my hands still shook, they tended to me as if I’d just walked miles in that blizzard. I knew then I’d never be a filmmaker.
About motherhood, though, I was wrong. Fifteen years later, happily coupled with a wonderful man, I gave birth to my first daughter; I now have two. I don’t wish I had a 20-year-old. I didn’t want that baby, with that man. Abortion rights, yes, I’ll always support them, but even all these years later, I wish the motto wasn’t “Never again,” but “Avoid this if there’s any way you possibly can, even if it’s legal, because it’s awful.”
I wish that someone had alerted me to the harshness of the experience, acknowledged the layers of regret that built and fell away as the months and years passed. I want my daughters to have the option of safe and legal abortion, of course. I just don’t want them to have to use it. Continue reading
For those of you who want some patriotic movies to watch over the long Fourth of July weekend here are some suggestions for viewing. Longtime readers of this blog will see that this differs somewhat from earlier lists of top ten patriotic movies with some additions and deletions. Feel free to suggest additional movies in the comboxes.
10. National Treasure (2004)-Sure it’s cursed with a ridiculous plot involving the masons and a treasure, it is still a lot of fun and calls us back to the foundation document, the Declaration of Independence, that is the cornerstone of our Republic.
9. Hamburger Hill (1987)-Content advisory: very, very strong language in the video clip which may be viewed here. All the Vietnam veterans I’ve mentioned it to have nothing but praise for this film which depicts the assault on Hill 937 by elements of the 101rst Division, May 10-20, 1969. It is a fitting tribute to the valor of the American troops who served their country in an unpopular war a great deal better than their country served them.
8. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)-James Cagney in perhaps the greatest film bio of them all, a salute to George M. Cohan, the legendary composer, playwright and patriot.
7. Saving Lincoln (2013)- Overshadowed by the Lincoln film of 2012, this rendition of Lincoln’s years as President is first rate.
The human cost of the War is always at the core of the film, as we see in the delivery of the Gettysburg Address where some of the members of the crowd hearing Lincoln are holding pictures of soldier relatives who have died.
Lincoln in the film comes to believe that he will die in office and accepts his fate, hoping that God will spare him until his work is accomplished.
6. Gettysburg (1993)-The movie that I think comes the closest to conveying to us the passions of the Civil War. You really can’t understand America unless you understand the Civil War. As Shelby Foote, one of the greatest historians of the war, said: “Any understanding of this nation has to be based, and I mean really based, on an understanding of the Civil War. I believe that firmly. It defined us. The Revolution did what it did. Our involvement in European wars, beginning with the First World War, did what it did. But the Civil War defined us as what we are and it opened us to being what we became, good and bad things. And it is very necessary, if you are going to understand the American character in the twentieth century, to learn about this enormous catastrophe of the mid-nineteenth century. It was the crossroads of our being, and it was a hell of a crossroads.” Continue reading
Hmmm, PopeWatch missed this when it occurred:
Days after discussing the U.S. Catholic bishops’ fight over contraception with President Obama, Pope Francis met Monday (March 31) with members of the Green family, the Oklahoma billionaires whose company, Hobby Lobby, took their challenge to Obama’s contraception mandate to the Supreme Court last week.
“The purpose of the [Green's] meeting was to thank the pope for the loan of items to the exhibit from the Vatican museum and library,” said Jennifer Sheran of DeMoss, the Atlanta public relations firm that represents the Greens. “The pope did ask how the (Hobby Lobby) case was progressing.”
On December 16, 1997, Pope John Paul II in receiving the credentials of Ambassador Lindy Boggs made some very perceptive remarks on our Declaration of Independence:
The Founding Fathers of the United States asserted their claim to freedom and independence on the basis of certain “self-evident” truths about the human person: truths which could be discerned in human nature, built into it by “nature’s God.” Thus they meant to bring into being, not just an independent territory, but a great experiment in what George Washington called “ordered liberty”: an experiment in which men and women would enjoy equality of rights and opportunities in the pursuit of happiness and in service to the common good. Reading the founding documents of the United States, one has to be impressed by the concept of freedom they enshrine: a freedom designed to enable people to fulfill their duties and responsibilities toward the family and toward the common good of the community. Their authors clearly understood that there could be no true freedom without moral responsibility and accountability, and no happiness without respect and support for the natural units or groupings through which people exist, develop, and seek the higher purposes of life in concert with others.
The American democratic experiment has been successful in many ways. Millions of people around the world look to the United States as a model in their search for freedom, dignity, and prosperity. But the continuing success of American democracy depends on the degree to which each new generation, native-born and immigrant, makes its own the moral truths on which the Founding Fathers staked the future of your Republic. Their commitment to build a free society with liberty and justice for all must be constantly renewed if the United States is to fulfill the destiny to which the Founders pledged their “lives . . . fortunes . . . and sacred honor.”
I am happy to take note of your words confirming the importance that your government attaches, in its relations with countries around the world, to the promotion of human rights and particularly to the fundamental human right of religious freedom, which is the guarantee of every other human right. Respect for religious conviction played no small part in the birth and early development of the United States. Thus John Dickinson, Chairman of the Committee for the Declaration of Independence, said in 1776: “Our liberties do not come from charters; for these are only the declaration of preexisting rights. They do not depend on parchments or seals; but come from the King of Kings and the Lord of all the earth.” Indeed it may be asked whether the American democratic experiment would have been possible, or how well it will succeed in the future, without a deeply rooted vision of divine providence over the individual and over the fate of nations. Continue reading
If the Legislature shall fail to pass legislation that the President deems essential, the President shall have the authority to unilaterally pass such legislation via Executive Order. – US Constitution, Article II, Section 5, as envisioned by Barack Obama.
One would think that, having unanimously been rebuffed by the Supreme Court yet again for executive overreach, President Obama would be somewhat chastened. Of course the person who thinks that obviously doesn’t know Barack Obama.
President Barack Obama appeared equally annoyed and frustrated with House Republicans on Tuesday, dismissing their recent threat of a lawsuit and promising to continue with the executive actions that have so bothered the GOP.
“Middle-class families can’t wait for Republicans in Congress to do stuff,” Mr. Obama during a speech along the Georgetown waterfront. “So sue me. As long as they’re doing nothing, I’m not going to apologize for trying to do something.”
Since there is no imaginary codicil in the Constitution that permits the President to act unilaterally, even if “middle-class families” can’t wait, President Obama is technically quite wrong. Leaving aside the dubious analysis that middle-class families are anxiously awaiting some kind of immigration reform, the President’s self-congratulatory statement about trying to do “something” is constitutionally and politically noxious.
The constitutional problem is obvious. We still liver under a republican form of government, one that is largely built upon the foundation of checks and balances and separation of powers. To concentrate powers into one hand is to set a course for tyranny. As our constitutional scholar of a President has no doubt read:
But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
Reading a little further down, Madison writes, “In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates.” Yes, the legislature is to be dominant, with the president afforded necessary checks to make sure that the legislature doesn’t get out of control. But that check on the legislatures comes in the form of a veto pen. The president’s power is essentially a negative one, ensuring that the Congress does not abuse its constitutional authority. Notice, however, that Madison does not prescribe an affirmative check to the presidency. He does not advocate - nor would almost any of the Framers – presidential ability to act outside of Congressional authority (save in times of rebellion) on his own initiative. The president’s job is to restrain Congress, not for him to get out hand himself when he doesn’t like legislative inaction.
The policy aspect of Obama’s arrogant message is that at least he is doing something. It doesn’t really matter what he is doing or whether what he’s doing actually works, but the main thing is he’s doing something. And that sums up the progressive movement in a nutshell. “Don’t just stand there, do something” has been the official motto of the progressive movement for the past century. The details are of niggling importance. That the proposal might, at best, be unhelpful and, at worst, deprive citizens of their liberty, is not given much consideration.
Of course Obama is merely treading in the same path as progressive presidents that have preceded him. Woodrow Wilson (aka the reason we shouldn’t allow Ph. Ds in the White House, says this Ph. D) wanted to radically re-orient the American polity towards a Prime Minister model. FDR threatened to expand the size of the Supreme Court until he got what he wanted. President Obama is simply acting out the aspirations of Wilson, FDR and their many progressive boosters. Congress? Bah, unhelpful. The Supreme Court? Bah, we’ll just ignore those old codgers.
Unfortunately the president’s arrogance is justified. After all, what is Congress going to do? Speaker Boehner’s going nowhere lawsuit is a futile and pathetic attempt to reign in Obama. Republicans may very well sweep the midterm elections, but we all know that this president is not going to be impeached, and assuredly will not be removed from office. No, President Obama will certainly still be in office until noon on January 20, 2017. So he can taunt Congress all he wants knowing full well that they can’t and won’t do anything to him, and that a large chunk of the public doesn’t even care that this is happening.
Please don’t take this as yet another criticism of those feckless Republicans. Admittedly their options are narrow, and they are narrow because of the reckless fecklessness of Congressional Democrats. There was a time in this country when it was thought that we had in essence four parties: Congressional Democrats and Republicans, and then the Presidential Democrat and Republican parties. All members of Congress jealously guarded their own powers and protected the institution, even when presidents of the same party were sitting in the Oval Office. Those days are gone. There is really nothing short of premeditated homicide caught on film that would spur Congressional Democrats to join in any impeachment proceedings, and even then it might only be a 50/50 vote in that caucus. This is a bipartisan problem to some extent, though the progressive left is even more invested in the idea of a single, centralized authority benevolently guiding us towards utopia.
That is why I think Jonah Goldberg’s criticism of Charles Murray’s piece, in which Murray tries to distinguish between the liberal left and the progressive left, hits the mark. Murray is somewhat right that there is a distinction to be made between “liberals” on the left who, while they agree with the favored policy choices of the progressive left, nonetheless deplore the tactics employed, especially as regards to the stifling of dissent. Yet these liberals don’t kick up too much of a fuss when those tactics achieve their preferred policy outcomes. I don’t see too many liberals complaining about executive overreach - well, not when the overreach is coming from the hands of Barack Obama.
And so here we are, with a president openly thumbing his nose at the republican form of government, and roughly half of the country is yawning at or cheering on this development.
Mr. Franklin’s sage wisdom echoes through the ages.
A poll by Quinnipiac finds Obama the number one choice for the title of worst president since World War II:
President Barack Obama is the worst president since World War II, 33 percent of American voters say in a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today. Another 28 percent pick President George W. Bush.
Ronald Reagan is the best president since WWII, 35 percent of voters say, with 18 percent for Bill Clinton, 15 percent for John F. Kennedy and 8 percent for Obama, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Among Democrats, 34 percent say Clinton is the best president, with 18 percent each for Obama and Kennedy. Continue reading
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air continues being on top of what is happening in the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision:
The mantra after the announcement of the 5-4 Hobby Lobby decision on Monday, other than the Left’s shrieking over falling skies and theocracies, has been this: It was narrowly decided. That analysis springs from Justice Samuel Alito’s mention of Hobby Lobby’s status as a closely-held corporation, and the narrow number of contraceptive methods that the retailer chose to reject. That gave some hope that other cases involving broader rejection of contraception coverage might be more problematic in later cases.
A series of orders on lower-court rulings on Tuesday suggests to the Associated Press that Hobby Lobby might not be quite as narrow as some may think:
The Supreme Court on Tuesday confirmed that its decision a day earlier extending religious rights to closely held corporations applies broadly to the contraceptive coverage requirement in the new health care law, not just the handful of methods the justices considered in their ruling. …
Tuesday’s orders apply to companies owned by Catholics who oppose all contraception. Cases involving Colorado-based Hercules Industries Inc., Illinois-based Korte & Luitjohan Contractors Inc. and Indiana-based Grote Industries Inc. were awaiting action pending resolution of the Hobby Lobby case.
The court also sent back two more cases to an appellate court that had ruled in favor of the mandate, with orders to reconsider in light of Hobby Lobby:
The justices also ordered lower courts that ruled in favor of the Obama administration to reconsider those decisions in light of Monday’s 5-4 decision.
Two Michigan-based companies, Autocam Corp. and Eden Foods Inc., both lost their cases in the lower courts. The justices ordered the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its decisions against the companies.
The ACLJ announced yesterday that the Court has granted a reversal for one of their cases, Gilardi v HHS, after a partial defeat in the DC Circuit:
In the wake of yesterday’s blockbuster Hobby Lobby decision striking down the HHS Mandate, today the Supreme Court granted our petition for review in the case of Gilardi, v. HHS, and denied the government’s petition in our case of Korte v. HHS. In Gilardi, the Court vacated the decision of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals (see report of decision here) and sent the case back to the lower court to apply the Hobby Lobby decision to the facts of the Gilardi case. In Korte, the Court’s action today leaves in place the resounding victory we achieved at the Seventh Circuit (see report of decision here.)
The district court refused to provide an injunction against enforcement of the mandate in Gilardi, which would have cost the business owner $14 million in penalties for refusing to prove abortifacient contraceptives to his employees (all of whom can buy them on their own, of course). Continue reading
You can always tell when the left loses a big one in this country because the more loosely wired of their cadre unleash the most amusing rants. In the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision, Franky Schaeffer knows who to blame for the 5-4 win for religion: Catholics!
Pope Francis must have vomited when he heard the Hobby Lobby news. Nothing could undo the good he has recently done the Church’s image more than yet another case of anti-woman lashing out by a cabal or far right Roman Catholic activists– this time in the Supreme Court.
Alarmed by the Supreme Court pandering to the extreme religious right in the Hobby Lobby case, the new pope might ask “Who is responsible for this?” The answer is: Many people. However two people are the real instigators: the late evangelical far right activist, Charles Colson, and Roman Catholic far right ideologue and anti-gay activist, Princeton Professor Robert George. Their tool has been Justice Antonin Scalia the other Roman Catholic members of the Court.
George is a close friend and co-conspirator with fellow ultra-conservative far right Roman Catholic ideologues including with Scalia who became the ringleader of the GOP’s Court-driven Hobby Lobby lunge into theocratic politics. George is the de facto father of the twinned war against gays and war against women. Scalia is his follower and close friend. And George has the support of the U.S. Roman Catholic bishops, the Mormon leadership and the most conservative of the evangelical leaders. Charles Colson was George’s close confident. Together they hatched the plan that in the end (and after Colson died) became the Hobby Lobby case.
Way back when, the late Charles “Chuck” Colson teamed up with George of to launch the dirty tricks campaign to brand President Obama as “anti-religious.” They decided to use the issue of contraception as the hinge to turn people against him. Continue reading
Last month Pope Francis spoke out on the subject of religious freedom:
“Every human is a ’seeker’ of truth on his origins and destiny. In his mind and in his ’heart’, questions and thoughts arise that cannot be repressed or stifled, since they emerge from the depths of the person and are a part of the intimate essence of the person. They are religious questions, and religious freedom is necessary for them to manifest themselves fully”. Francis emphasised that “reason recognises that religious freedom is a fundamental right of man, reflecting his highest dignity, that of seeking the truth and adhering to it, and recognising it as an indispensable condition for realising all his potential. Religious freedom is not simply freedom of thought or private worship. It is the freedom to live according to ethical principles, both privately and publicly, consequent to the truth one has found”. The Pope described this situation as the “great challenge of the globalised world, a sickness, in which weak thought even reduces the general ethical level, in the name of a false concept of tolerance that ends up persecuting those who defend the truth on humanity and its ethical consequences”. Continue reading
Great principles don’t get lost once they come to light. They’re right here; you just have to see them again!
Senator Jefferson Smith, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
In our struggles for liberty today, we are part of a long and proud American tradition, something that Abraham Lincoln reminded the country of almost 156 years ago:
These communities, by their representatives in old Independence Hall, said to the whole world of men: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This was their majestic interpretation of the economy of the Universe. This was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of the Creator to His creatures. [Applause.] Yes, gentlemen, to all His creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows. They grasped not only the whole race of man then living, but they reached forward and seized upon the farthest posterity. They erected a beacon to guide their children and their children’s children, and the countless myriads who should inhabit the earth in other ages. Wise statesmen as they were, they knew the tendency of prosperity to breed tyrants, and so they established these great self-evident truths, that when in the distant future some man, some faction, some interest, should set up the doctrine that none but rich men, or none but white men, were entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, their posterity might look up again to the Declaration of Independence and take courage to renew the battle which their fathers began — so that truth, and justice, and mercy, and all the humane and Christian virtues might not be extinguished from the land; so that no man would hereafter dare to limit and circumscribe the great principles on which the temple of liberty was being built.
Abraham Lincoln, August 17, 1858
On September 30, 1859 Lincoln made another speech which I think is very apropos to our time: Continue reading
The “Director” of Inclusion and Diversity: The notion of “sexual minorites” in U.S. Catholic higher education…
In their unbridled lust to prove to the world they are inclusive and diverse institutions not parochial and doctrinaire institutions, many of the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges are “putting the money where their mouths are” and “walking the talk.” How so? By imitating their secular counterparts and expanding the already bloated number of high-ranking administrators to include the position of “Director of Inclusion and Diversity.”
When all’s said, done, and hired, that’s probably a $150-200k/year additional personnel expense, excluding associated operating expenses, all for the bragging rights to claim: “[We strive] to be an inclusive and diverse community that educates and cares for the whole person.” A quick calculation suggests that’s about 4 fully-paid tuitions at many Catholic institutions of higher education.
The most recent Catholic institution seeking to fill this position is St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. As advertised, the individual holding this position:
- is responsible for providing institutional leadership to create and sustain a culture that embraces and promotes diversity and inclusion in their broadest meanings; and,
- defines, assesses, and nurtures diversity and inclusion as institutional resources that support and enhance the mission of Saint Joseph’s University.
What possibly might that mean?
Actually, there’s no need to hazard a guess. The position description states this individual will evidence a “nuanced, broad, and sophisticated understanding of diversity and inclusion issues.” In addition, this individual will “be culturally sensitive to racial/religious/cultural/sexual minorities that present themselves as part of the campus community.”
While The Motley Monk “gets” the notions of racial/religious/cultural minorities that present themselves as part of a campus community in the broadest sense, what’s this notion of “sexual minorities”? Demographically, there’s one sexual minority globally. It’s the male sex.
The Douay Rheims version of Genesis 5:2 states:
He created them male and female; and blessed them: and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
Perhaps something got lost in the translation…of the word Catholic, as in “As Philadelphia’s Jesuit Catholic University….”
To read the job posting, click on the following link:
To read the mission of Philadelphia’s Jesuit Catholic University, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air brings to us the news that the Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby is already having an impact:
Late yesterday, the first fruits of the Hobby Lobby decision fell into the lap of EWTN, the Catholic satellite television station which has fought the HHS mandate into the appellate court. Today would have been the first day that EWTN would have to start paying ruinous fines for refusing to provide free contraception and sterilization in its health insurance coverage. Fortunately, the Eleventh Circuit granted a stay not long after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby:
In a resounding victory for religious freedom, today EWTN was granted last minute relief from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, one day before the world’s largest religious media network would be forced to violate its deeply help religious convictions or pay crippling fines to the IRS on July 1.
After the district judge recently issued a disappointing ruling against the global Catholic media network, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed an emergency appeal to the Eleventh Circuit. Pending that ruling, the Becket Fund urged the Supreme Court and the Eleventh Circuit to step in to protect EWTN from being forced to provide contraceptives and potentially life-terminating drugs and devices that violate its Catholic teachings. Thanks to the Eleventh Circuit’s decision today to grant temporary emergency relief to the Catholic network, EWTN can now freely practice what it preaches while it pursues its claims in court.
“On the same day as the Hobby Lobby decision, the Eleventh Circuit protected religious ministries challenging the same government mandate,” said Lori Windham, Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund. “It’s time for the government to stop fighting ministries like EWTN and the Little Sisters of the Poor, and start respecting religious freedom.”
“We are thankful that the Eleventh Circuit protected our right to religious freedom while we pursue our case in court,” said EWTN Chairman and CEO Michael P. Warsaw. “We want to continue to practice the same Catholic faith that we preach to the world every day.”
The order itself is worth reading. The official unanimous order from the three-judge panel officially states that “we express no views on the ultimate merits of EWTN’s appeal in this case,” but that’s not true for Judge Pryor. In a 28-page concurrence, Pryor goes on at length as to why EWTN is likely to prevail on the merits of the case. And in doing so, Pryor takes particular aim at the so-called “accommodation” cited in Hobby Lobby and the arrogance of government instructing Catholic institutions on theology.
The Network has asserted, without dispute, that it “is prohibited by its religion from signing, submitting, or facilitating the transfer of the government-required certification” necessary to opt out of the mandate. The Network further asserts that, by requiring it to deliver Form 700 to the third-party administrator of its health insurance plan, the United States has forced the Network “to forego religious precepts” and instead, contrary to Catholic teachings, materially cooperate in evil. Midrash Sephardi, Inc. v. Town of Surfside, 366 F.3d 1214, 1227 (11th Cir. 2004). If it fails to deliver that form, the Network faces $12,775,000 in penalties a year. 26 U.S.C. § 4980D(b)( 1). If that is not a substantial burden on the free exercise of religion, then it is hard to imagine what would be. …
It is neither our duty nor the duty of the United States to tell the Network that its undisputed belief is flawed. See Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., No. 13-354, slip op. at 36-37 (U.S. June 30, 2014). The Supreme Court has instructed that “it is not for us to say that the line [drawn by the religious believer] was an unreasonable one. Courts should not undertake to dissect religious beliefs. . . .” Thomas v. Rev. Bd. of the Ind. Emp ‘t Sec. Div., 450 U.S. 707, 714, 101 S. Ct. 1425, 1430 (1981). The United States flouts that instruction by treating an undisputed religious belief as a disputed question of law. But “it is not for us to say that [the Network's] religious beliefs are mistaken or insubstantial.” Hobby Lobby, No. 13- 354, slip op. at 37. We must instead “determine whether the line drawn [by the Network] reflects an honest conviction, and there is no dispute that it does.” Id. at 37-38 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
Pryor also takes aim at other appellate circuit decisions in similar cases denying injunctive relief in the basis of the accommodation, calling their reasoning “rubbish”, emphasis mine: Continue reading