Federal District Judge Richard Leon has ruled in favor of the March for Life in its suit against the HHS Mandate. Law Professor Josh Blackman explains the basis for his opinion:
In March for Life v. Burwell, Judge Leon (D.D.C.) found that HHS could not enforce the contraceptive mandate against March for Life, a staunchly pro-life group that is not religious. Beyond the conventional RFRA analysis, the court found that HHS lacks a rational basis to exempt religious organizations that oppose abortion, but not similarly situated secular organizations with the same beliefs. This analysis echoes a point we made in the Cato Amicus in support of the Little Sisters of the Poor–that HHS lacks the interpretive authority to pick and choose which religious organizations can receive exemptions from the mandate.
Judge Leon’s analysis, though grounded in equal protection doctrine, reaches a very similar conclusion. Here is the key analysis:
What emerges is a curious rationale indeed. HHS has chosen to protect a class of individuals [Houses of worship only] that, it believes, are less likely than other individuals to avail themselves of contraceptives. It has consequently moored this accommodation not in the language of conscientious objection, but in the vernacular of religious protection. This, of course, is puzzling. In HHS’s own view, it is not the belief or non-belief in God that warrants safe harbor from the Mandate. The characteristic that warrants protection–and employment relationship based in part on a shared objection to abortifacients–is altogether separate from theism. Stated differently, what HHS claims to be protecting is religious belief, when it actually is protecting a moral philosophy about the sanctity of human life. Where HHS has erred, however, is in assuming that this trait is unique to such organizations [Houses of worship]. It is not.
The court goes on to explain that March for Life, and its employees, share a pro-life philosophy. Indeed, their employees work there to advocate their views.
On the spectrum of “likelihood” that undergirds HHS’s policy decisions, March for Life’s employees are, to put it mildly, “unlikely” to use contraceptives. In this respect, March for Life and exempted religious organizations are not just “similarly situated,” they are identically situated.
The court finds this classification cannot be supported by a rational basis:
HHS has chosen, however, to accommodate this moral philosophy only when it is overtly tied to religious values. HHS provides no principled basis, other than the semantics of religious tolerance, for its distinction. If the purpose of the religious employer exemption is, as HHS states, to respect the anti-abortifacient tenets of an employer relationship, then it makes no rational sense–indeed no sense whatsoever–to deny March for Life that same respect.
Note: once again, this is a guest post by Stephen Herreid, not Bonchamps.
“Well, it turns out our Founders designed a system that makes it more difficult to bring about change than I would like sometimes.” – President Barack Obama
“…America was never well-founded, so either needs to be differently re-founded or at least endured, even survived.” – Patrick Deneen
Faced with the historic government overreach that is the HHS mandate, it ought to be easier than ever for Christians to know who their enemies are. One would hope that in this desperate time conservatives and Christians would unite against the enemies of the Church, and defend the religious liberty that has already been half-robbed from us. Unlike in many other countries, where Christians are already third class citizens and some are killed and violated by the thousands, America is the home of a long-standing Constitutional Republic, a Rule of Law tradition that explicitly protects and honors our religious liberty. The army of the Left is united in its effort to topple that grand tradition and the Church that it protects. Appallingly, the army of the Right is not so united in their defense.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have proclaimed a second Fortnight for Freedom from June 21-July 4th, and, as last year, The American Catholic will participate with special blog posts each day.
Bravo to the Thomas More Law Center that won a preliminary injuction against enforcement of the HHS Mandate as to their clients Thomas R. Beckwith and Beckwith Electric.
The Government claimed that once a business owner chooses to enter into the marketplace or incorporate his business, he surrenders his right to exercise his religious beliefs.
However, Judge Kovachevich’s 37-page decision which mentioned Thomas R. Beckwith’s unique family history—Beckwith’s ancestors arrived on the shores of America in 1626 to escape religious persecution from England — ended with a powerful statement on religious freedom:
“The First Amendment, and its statutory corollary the RFRA, endow upon the citizens of the United States the unalienable right to exercise religion, and that right is not relinquished by efforts to engage in free enterprise under the corporate form. No legislative, executive, or judicial officer shall corrupt the Framers’ initial expression, through their enactment of laws, enforcement of those laws, or more importantly, their interpretation of those laws. And any action that debases, or cheapens, the intrinsic value of the tenet of religious tolerance that is entrenched in the Constitution cannot stand.” Continue reading
Add Tom Monaghan’s lawsuit against the contraceptive mandate to the list of those granted injunctive relief:
A federal judge has ordered a temporary halt on the Obama administration’s birth-control coverage policy for Tom Monaghan, the Catholic billionaire who founded Domino’s Pizza.
Federal District Court Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff issued the decision Sunday, less than two days before the policy would have taken effect and exposed Monaghan to fines for non-compliance.
“Plaintiff has shown that abiding by the mandate will substantially burden his exercise of religion,” Zatkoff wrote.
“The government has failed to satisfy its burden of showing that its actions were narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest. … This factor weighs in favor of granting Plaintiffs’ motion.” Continue reading
Federal Circuit Courts are granting injunctive relief to plaintiffs in suits alleging that the contaceptive mandate violates both the First Amendment free exercise clause and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act:
On Dec. 28, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the HHS Mandate violates this family’s religious liberty as guaranteed by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Kathleen Sebelius’ mandate could be argued to violate the First Amendment as well, but if a court can resolve a case by looking to a statute, it will avoid issuing an opinion regarding constitutional issues. The Seventh Circuit has issued an injunction while the appeal in this case, Korte v. Sebelius, is pending.
In a 2-1 split decision, a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit in Chicago rejected the Tenth Circuit’s conclusion in Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius that the HHS Mandate does not impose a significant burden on religious freedom by forcing employers to provide insurance that covers things they regard as immoral.
The Seventh Circuit reasoned, “With respect, we think this misunderstands the substance of the claim. The religious-liberty violation at issue here inheres in the coerced coverage of contraception, abortifacients, sterilization, and related services, not—or perhaps more precisely, not only—in the later purchase or use of contraception or related services [by employees].”
The Seventh Circuit also noted that the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis recently came down on the same side of this issue in O’Brien v. U.S. Dep’t of HHS, leaving the Tenth Circuit in Denver as the minority of what is now a 2-1 split between the federal appeals courts.
This now sets the stage for a Supreme Court showdown. The justices may let this issue play out for a few more months until a couple appellate courts hand down full-length opinions exploring all these issues. By contrast, the Seventh Circuit’s action is just an eight-page order. Continue reading
One of the many dreadful results of the American people deciding to give the Southside Messiah another four years to see how much of the country he can gut, is that the struggle over the HHS mandate will not be resolved by Congress simply reversing the initiative of the Obama administration.
Lawsuits against the HHS Mandate have been meeting with some success, go here to read about injunctive relief being given to a private employer, and doubtless all of this will eventually end up before the Supreme Court. It has been heartening to see how many non-Catholics have been standing with Catholics in this area. For example, Tyndale House Publishers have gone to court and gotten injunctive relief. Go here to read about it. Continue reading
Let me explain, in as clear and precise terms as I can, why social conservatives are not going anywhere, nor should they go anywhere, but should remain right at the heart of the conservative movement and gain acceptance among libertarians as well, and should reject as the foolish garbage that it is all suggestions to the contrary.
First, our principles are not electoral losers. Leftists believe they are on “the right side of history”, comparing the campaign for “marriage equality” with every civil rights struggle of past eras. They believe that this fact is reflected in the way the youth vote splits and the purported reasons why. At the same time, they gloat and brag about the size of the Democratic share of the minority vote.
The merits of the “marriage equality” campaign don’t need to be discussed here. I’ve discussed them to death on this blog in previous posts. The fact remains that minorities are opposed to “marriage equality.” If Hispanics can be won over to the GOP on the immigration issue, it will put a stop to this “wrong side of history” nonsense for a generation. The uncomfortable alliance between racial minorities who hold socially conservative views and white liberals will finally be blown apart. Unlike them, when racial minorities finally do side with the GOP en masse, we won’t attribute white liberal hatred for them to “racism” (even though it sure looks like it sometimes). This is a battle of values, not skin colors, and a failure to see that is one of the reasons why the white liberal left will never win the future they mistakenly believe to be theirs.
On All Saints Day, the bishops of Pennsylania released a statement on the upcoming elections. Here is the text:
Each year on this day the Catholic Church celebrates “All Saints Day.” This solemnity remembers those who have fulfilled their earthly vocation and now enjoy eternal happiness in the presence of God. These saints may be unnamed, but they certainly are not unknown. Their lives are characterized by steadfast faith and charitable works. They exemplify what it means to love God and love one’s neighbor.
The election is almost upon us, and many of us have made up our minds as to whom we are going to vote for, or whether we will even bother to vote at all. On the slight chance that someone from the ever-shrinking pool of undecided voters in a critical county in a vital swing state stumbles upon this blog post, the even less likely chance that they are Catholic, and the even less likely chance that their Catholic faith informs their political conscience, I’ll make one last appeal for a GOP vote.
I say a GOP vote, and not a Romney vote, because a) the most important issue at stake in this election really only depends upon which party, not individual man, is in power, and b) many people on the fence probably aren’t very enthused about Romney the man. I’ll admit that even as someone who has made up his mind, I am still not enthused. Granted, Romney isn’t as awful as many of us imagined him to be before he took Obama to the woodshed in the first presidential debate, it still isn’t easy to joyfully rally to his banner. He lacks the consistency and commitment to principle of the enigmatic Ron Paul, a pretty old guy who manages to get thousands of modern American 20-somethings to care about things other than themselves, which is nothing short of miraculous in its own right. Still, he has emerged as a capable enough candidate for the highest office in the land. But let’s return to the issues.
Paul Ryan gave a major address yesterday in Cleveland. Go here to watch it on C-Span. In this speech he argues that the Government efforts to alleviate poverty have been a flat failure, destructive to the family and increasing government dependcy. He points to welfare reform of the 1990s as a model of how Government can truly help to alleviate poverty by encouraging work and independence.
He notes that Government often abuses power as it expands its scope:
Nothing undermines the essential and honorable work these groups do quite like the abuse of government power. Take what happened this past January, when the Department of Health and Human Services issued new rules requiring Catholic hospitals, charities and universities to violate their deepest principles. Never mind your own conscience, they were basically told – from now on you’re going to do things the government’s way.
This mandate isn’t just a threat to religious charities. It’s a threat to all those who turn to them in times of need. In the name of strengthening our safety net, this mandate and others will weaken it.
The good news? When Mitt Romney is president, this mandate will be gone, and these groups will be able to continue the good work they do.
It is a fascinating speech and indicates that Ryan has thought deeply about the role of Government in helping people escape poverty and is willing to lead the fight to implement the reforms necessary to alter the path we are on to national bankruptcy and ever increasing poverty. Here is the text of the speech: Continue reading
My Bishop, Daniel Jenky of the Peoria Diocese, is a big, jovial bear-like guy. It is hard not to like him, but I have never been prouder of him than I have been this year. He has been one of the bishops standing up and constantly sounding the alarm posed to our religious liberty by the Obama administration. Go here to read a speech he gave on the subject earlier this year. Continue reading
Indicating the seriousness with which our Bishops view this electoral contest, they wasted no time in taking Biden to task for his lie about the HHS Mandate in the debate last evening: Continue reading
We are approaching the most important U.S. Presidential election for us – by “us” I mean theologically orthodox, politically conservative Catholics – possibly since 1960, when the election of the first Catholic president seemed so possible and actually occurred. I’m grateful to be a contributing member of The American Catholic during this election season, which is one of the most widely-read Catholic blogs in the country. This certainly won’t be the last thing I have to say about the presidential race, but rather the first.
When the GOP primary was getting underway, I was a firm Ron Paul supporter. I knew he would not and could not win, but I supported him anyway because I agree with him on most issues, particularly on the role of our government both domestically and abroad. To support Ron Paul was to support the drastic reduction of the federal government, to reject the arrogant assumptions of technocratic management of economic and social issues from the top-down, and to place a vote of confidence in individuals, families, and local governments to solve social and moral problems. I also believe that this is the fundamental political truth of our time: a state governed by militant secularists cannot possibly effect the common good as it is understood by Christians, people of other faiths, or even those secularists who recognize the value of the natural law tradition that has informed the politics of Western civilization since the time of Plato and Aristotle. And yet if we are destined to have secularists in power, we can at least work to limit their power by limiting government as much as possible.
The corollary of the political truth stated above is that one cannot simply discuss “the role of government” in the abstract, without considering who will actually run the state and what values and assumptions they take with them as they create and execute policies with coercive force. Who exactly will be deciding issues that affect your life and mine? Who will have coercive power over you and yours?
More important than what happens to me or my family, though, is how the Church will be affected by those who rule. Even in her most humiliated and rejected state, which the sex scandals have arguably wrought, the Church is still the light of civilization. If her light is extinguished, driven underground, or forced to hide in the shadows, then it is not simply we Catholics who will suffer (though there is certainly nothing wrong with suffering for the faith), but all of society. The Church can and has survived hideous persecution, but it is not clear that society can survive what it will inevitably become without the Church, as well as all of the other religious organizations that will be affected by federal policies, actively involved in public life. Finally, whether society recognizes its debt to the Church or not is irrelevant.
It may be that God has ordained this as a time of cleansing, a time during which the Church must be forced underground and reduced to a smaller size so that she can be tempered and purified. But we cannot know such things with any certainty. What we can know with at least a little more clarity, on the other hand, is what our duties are as Catholic citizens. It is my view that our first priority is to protect the right of the Church to publicly exist. Usually this doesn’t come up because usually the U.S. government does not enact policies that threaten this public existence. But the status quo has changed, and we now face the prospect of an open, vicious anti-Catholic regime in a lame duck Obama presidency. For this reason, I feel obliged as a Catholic to work for the defeat of Obama-Biden in 2012. In practical terms, this means supporting Romeny-Ryan for the Presidency.
The Catholic News Agency published some remarks made by President Obama in Denver yesterday (Aug. 9) regarding the HHS contraception mandate that are so deluded and irrational that it becomes difficult to imagine how this country can possibly continue forward. We are dealing now with a level of dishonesty that is so open and aggressive that reasonable discourse, upon which social peace ultimately rests, is fast becoming impossible.
This is what Obama said about Mitt Romney’s opposition to the mandate:
“It would be up to the employer to decide. Your boss, telling you what’s best for your health, your safety,” the president said.
“I don’t think your boss should get to control the health care that you get. I don’t think that insurance companies should control the care that you get. I don’t think politicians should control the care that you get.”
This is Barack Obama speaking. The man whose healthcare vision is about to be foisted on the American people, in which they will be forced to buy health insurance (by politicians, from insurance companies) or face official penalties, just said that he doesn’t think politicians and insurance companies should control the care that we get.
Some statements are so at odds with reality – in this case, a reality established by Obama himself – that they can only be described as psychotic. The psychosis continues with the idea that without the HHS mandate, employers would, and indeed, have been, deciding what is best for their employee’s health. It never entered Obama’s psychotic mind that a desire not to cover what HHS mandates could, and almost always does, revolve around the employer’s desire to avoid something he finds morally objectionable, in which case it has absolutely nothing to do with dictating employee’s health. No, when a man in a position of relative power, the employer, decides what he will and will not pay for his employees to have, it is necessarily an aggressive and unjust exercise of power by the master over the subordinate in the psychotic mind of the president.
It doesn’t matter that on every corner of every major street of every town and city in the United States is a CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid or local drug store that is brimming with contraceptives that are legal for anyone to purchase. It doesn’t matter that there are clinics that provide abortions and sterilizations for those who want them. It doesn’t matter that there isn’t a single employer in the nation that can legally force people to work for them and thus deny them the opportunity to work for someone who is willing to offer a plan that covers such things. All of these conditions, which collectively taken together, any sane man would recognize as a condition of freedom (at least relatively) as far as health and reproductive choices are concerned, mean nothing to Obama. They mean nothing to the hordes of bleating drones who have dutifully towed the party line on this issue either.
The layers of insanity go even deeper. Obama himself has created the conditions under which businesses with 50 or more employees must eventually provide health insurance (by 2014). He has forced this responsibility onto the employers of America. He then proceeds not only to insult them with his “you didn’t build that” remarks (some potential business owners won’t be building anything thanks to Obamacare), but to prohibit them from exercising their preferences, moral or otherwise, in how they go about doing it. And yet to hear Obama speak, one might think that employers themselves demanded Obamacare just so they could have power over their employees that they didn’t have before, and that the HHS mandate had to exist for this reason. This isn’t just a false picture of reality, but a deranged one.
Finally, Obama speaks as if employers making decisions about what they will cover or not cover in their health plans is something new, as opposed to the way it has been since health plans came into existence. All this time, apparently, bosses have been dictating to workers what is best for their health by not paying for their condoms and vasectomies. Obama has now freed us from the tyranny of having to pay for certain things we want with our own money. People who view reality this way can’t be reasoned with by people who don’t.
Looking at Obama’s recent rhetoric, a phrase keeps emerging. He keeps referring to America as “one American family”, especially when there is a tragedy in the news. Some commentators are even beginning to see him as a father figure (try not to wretch if you watch the clip). There is no doubt in my mind that he seems himself as the father of the nation, laying down rules for some of his more stubborn children, insisting that they share their toys with one another. That is how he sees the businessmen of America. And as for the religious conservatives, they are the cranky old uncle who is grudgingly tolerated but also increasingly despised by the more content members of Barack’s family. In neither case is there respect for what they do or what they represent. There is no respect for them as autonomous, rational beings with their own convictions. They’re just stubborn children or senile geriatrics, they aren’t mature and rational like Obama and his friends. He isn’t even a politician, not in his own psychotic mind. He is self-excluded from that list of people who want to “control what healthcare we get.” He isn’t controlling us; knowing us better than we know ourselves, he is guiding us, in spite of ourselves. He is our father.
Well the above video from the Romney campaign removes all doubt that the HHS Mandate is going to be front and center in the fall campaign. Obama was campaigning with Sandra Fluke yesterday, as Ed Morrissey at Hot Air details here. Obama’s war on the Catholic Church, and his attempt to promote schism within the Church, may play a decisive role in the swing states like Ohio that will decide this election.
From a townhall meeting in Ohio today. Go to 6:49 in the above video where Romney speaks about the HHS Mandate as a violation of religious freedom, and he says we are all Catholics today. If Mitt Romney keeps this up I will be voting for him as well as voting against Obama, and I didn’t think I would be saying that in this campaign.
Below is an analysis of ObamaCare and abortion that I have written for the summer newsletter of the crisis pregnancy center of which I am Chairman of the Board. Regular readers will detect a more restrained and “just the facts” presentation than I normally use in my blog posts. I thought that the change of pace style might be of interest to our faithful readers so I did not modify the analysis for this post. (Fear not, I will not inflict on the readers of this blog any of my professional scribblings in the law mines, which would be of utility only for readers suffering the pangs of insomnia!)
Now that the Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote, courtesy of Chief Justice Roberts switching his vote, has upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, universally better known as ObamaCare, pro-lifers should understand what ObamaCare means in regard to abortion.
1. Abortion surcharge-The Act provides that if an individual is enrolled in an insurance policy that covers elective abortions, each participant in that insurance plan must pay a separate surcharge for the elective abortion coverage. There is no opt out provision for individuals. So if a pro-lifer works for a business that provides such an insurance policy, the pro-life employee would have no choice but to pay the abortion surcharge. The Act forbids insurance companies from advertising that an abortion surcharge is required under the Plan.
2. Federal Subsidies to Insurance Plans That Provide Abortion– The Act provides for federal subsidies to health insurance plans, including plans that provide coverage for elective abortions, set up health insurance exchanges created by the states. The policies provided under the health insurance exchanges may include elective abortion coverage unless a state bans such coverage. Thus far the following states have banned such coverage: Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.
3. ObamaCare and Abortifacients The HHS mandate requiring “free” coverage for all contraceptive devices, see number 5 below, in virtually all health insurance plans, includes those devices and drugs thought to act as abortifacients. Continue reading