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Cardinal Dolan Issues Letter Hinting at Legal Challenge


JOAN FRAWLEY DESMOND

Source:
Nat. Cath. Register
Type:
Media/Opinion
Date:
3/2/2012

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ABSTRACTCardinal Dolan Issues Letter Hinting at Legal Challenge | Daily News | NCRegister.com Print Edition:  April 8, 2012   Donate Archives Blogs Store Resources Advertise Jobs Radio Subscribe Make This My Homepage Resources Christmas Music Arts & Entertainment Books Commentary Culture of Life Education In Person News Opinion Sunday Guides Travel Vatican Dan Burke Edward Pentin Mark Shea Matthew Warner Jimmy Akin Matt & Pat Archbold Simcha Fisher Tito Edwards Jennifer Fulwiler Steven D. Greydanus Tim Drake Tom Wehner Our Latest Show About the Show About the Register Donate Subscribe Stations Schedule Other EWTN Shows Advertising Overview Editorial Calendar Order Web Ad Order Print Ad Print Article | Email Article | Write To Us Daily News Daily News Cardinal Dolan Issues Letter Hinting at Legal Challenge (12769) NEWS ANALYSIS: Church recalibrates after negotiations with White House stall and Blunt Amendment is defeated in the Senate. Share by JOAN FRAWLEY DESMOND 03/02/2012 Comments (110) – EWTN News WASHINGTON — Cardinal Timothy of New York, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a letter to his brother bishops today, reporting that negotiations between the conference and the White House had “stalled” and that he was exploring legal remedies to address the First Amendment threat posed by the contraception mandate approved by the Obama administration. “[O]ur bishops’ conference, many individual religious entities, and other people of good will are working with some top-notch law firms who feel so strongly about this that they will represent us pro bono. In the upcoming days, you will hear much more about this encouraging and welcome development,” wrote Cardinal Dolan . If the conference decides to sue, it will be joining several other entities who have brought legal action against the federal government, including the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) and Belmont Abbey College, both represented by the Becket Fund for Religious LIberty, a public interest group. The Register is a service of EWTN. Cardinal Dolan’s letter reported that the legal strategy would be addressed “at our upcoming administrative board meeting and our June Plenary Assembly, when we will have the chance to discuss together these important issues and our way forward in addressing them.” Today’s letter marks an escalation in a church-state dispute that has now become a hot-button election-year issue, entangling the bishops’ conference — and Cardinal Dolan — in a deeply partisan battle. Yesterday, March 1, Democrats in the Senate defeated the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (S. 1467), designed to provide broad exemptions for employers and insurance carriers that objected to coverage of specific services on religious or moral grounds. Yet Church leaders and their allies contend that the 51-48 vote in the Senate to table the bill only confirms the need for more effective outreach to the faithful and the general public — even as they continue to pursue other legislative and legal remedies. “We will not rest until the protection of conscience rights is restored and the First Amendment is returned to its place of respect in the Bill of Rights,” said Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn. Bishop Lori chairs the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the USCCB. In a statement issued after the vote, Bishop Lori expressed his gratitude to the bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and the 47 other senators who backed the bill. “We will build on this base of support as we pursue legislation in the House of Representatives, urge the administration to change its course on this issue, and explore our legal rights under the Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” said Bishop Lori. After the defeat of the Blunt Amendment, House Speaker John Boehner vowed to find a legislative solution. But even if such a measure passed in the Senate, few expect that it could survive a presidential veto. Downward Spiral Cardinal Dolan’s March 2 letter echoes information and themes covered in a March 1 post on his personal blog . But the decision to release a letter may reflect a growing awareness that legislative remedies are unlikely to effectively address the threat posed by the HHS mandate. Cardinal Dolan’s letter reviewed the events of the past weeks that have marked a downward spiral of relations between the USCCB and the White House, from Secretary Sebelius’ Jan 20 approval of the new rule t to President Obama’s Feb. 10 announcement of an accommodation. The adjustment, in which insurance companies, rather than employers, would be responsible for the total cost of abortifacients, contraceptives and sterilizations, was roundly rejected by the bishops and many other groups. “At a recent meeting between staff of the bishops’ conferen.......