Obomination: Obama Tramples on the First Amendment

Published Fri, Feb 17 2012 7:30 AM


Last Friday, Obama held a press conference offering a “compromise” on the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate.  It was assuredly a compromise: Obama declared that religious institutions must compromise their consciences and provide abortifacient and other services.

154 Congressmen wrote to Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius criticizing this rule.  Speaker of the House John Boehner declared that the new rule was “an unambiguous attack on religious freedom in our country.”  He continued, “In imposing this requirement, the federal government is violating a First Amendment right that has stood for more than two centuries, and it is doing so in a manner that affects millions of Americans and harms some of our nation’s most vital institutions.”  Boehner announced that the House will enact an “effective and appropriate” bill protecting rights of conscience.

Many lawsuits have been filed challenging this Obomination.  Three lawsuits have been filed by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty on behalf of Belmont Abbey, Colorado Christian College and EWTN in the District of Columbia, Colorado and Alabama.  The Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that the State of Michigan will be a lead state challenging the mandate, joining with the Becket Fund’s cases.  Priests for Life announced it is filing a lawsuit as well.

Through this mandate, Obama has ignored the law.  First off, Obama’s regulation flies in the face of the the religion clauses in the First Amendment.  His administration constructed an exceedingly narrow definition of religion, which characterizes religion it in terms of houses of worship where services are rendered only to those who hold that religion.  Even Jesus Christ himself, who administered to the poor and needy who were not Jews, would not qualify under that definition.  Ed Whelan of National Review explains how the contraceptive mandate can be successfully challenged under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Obama’s supposed “compromise” announced at a press conference last Friday has no legal force.  Despite Obama’s supposed accommodation, the HHS rule is still the same text as before the press conference.  There was entirely no accommodation for religious liberty.  Nothing was actually changed except how the administration is pitching the mandate in the news media. 

It’s not just substance of the law that Obama is flouting.  It’s also process.  The Department of Health and Human Services did not offer the rule for public comments, rushing an interim final rule instead of following administrative law procedures. 

The editorial board of USA Today came out in opposition to the HHS mandate, writing, “The First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom deserves more weight than the administration allowed.”

Yesterday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on the how the Obama administration has “trampled on freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.”  Committee chair Darrell Issa (R-CA) said, “A government policy that encroaches on the conscientious objections of religious groups concerns all Americans who value the protections of the First Amendment.” One witness, William Thierfelder, who is president of Belmont Abbey College, said, "I don't think there should be any compromise when it comes to our rights to religious freedom."  Amen.


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# The Republican Lawyer Blog said on Friday, February 17, 2012 7:35 AM

The RNLA blog has a weekly "Obomination" feature covering the ways President Obama has defied

# The Republican Lawyer Blog said on Friday, March 02, 2012 8:01 AM

Notre Dame Law Professor O. Carter Snead, who formerly served as general counsel to the President’s

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