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Court ruling allows religious freedom lawsuits to proceed with hope


MICHELLE BAUMAN

Source:
CNA
Type:
Media/Opinion
Date:
6/28/2012

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ABSTRACTCourt ruling allows religious freedom lawsuits to proceed with hope :: Catholic News Agency (CNA) Editors Service About us Donate Spanish Portuguese Follow us: Loading News Headlines Vatican Americas Asia - Pacific US Europe Middle East - Africa Most Read Most Commented Archive Mandate Resources Abortion Advent Apologetics Benedict XVI Bible Cardinals Catechism Catholic Womanhood Church Fathers Life & Family Liturgical Calendar Liturgy Mary Politics Prayers Sacraments Saints Virtue Tools Catholic Podcast RSS Feeds CNA TV CNA Audio Columns A Life Worth Living Answering the Tough Questions Bishops' Corner Book Reviews Both Oars In Catholic & Single Catholic Men Guest Columnist Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II In Good Company Indispensable Economics Inside the Church during WWII Led Into the Truth Movie Reviews Preparing the way for the Roman Missal – 3rd Edition The New (& the Old) Evangelization The Spirit of the New Translation The Way of Beauty With Good Reason Your Moment in the Mass Documents Pope Benedict XVI Pope John Paul II Pope Paul VI Pope John XXIII Pope Pius XII Pope Pius XI Pope Pius X Pope Leo XIII Vatican II Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith Pontifical Council for the Family United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Cardinal James Francis Stafford Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Bishop Samuel J. Aquila Catholic Womanhood Home » News » US Court ruling allows religious freedom lawsuits to proceed with hope By Michelle Bauman Hannah Smith, Senior Counsel. Courtesy of the Becket Fund. Washington D.C., Jun 28, 2012 / 02:07 pm ( CNA/EWTN News ) .- In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the 2010 health care law, a leading religious freedom law firm has new confidence in the future of its lawsuits against the federal contraception mandate. Hannah Smith, senior counsel at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, explained that the arguments against the law that were recently rejected by the court are “separate and distinct legal challenges” from those being brought against the contraception mandate. In a June 28 press call shortly after the Supreme Court announced its ruling, Smith said that in this case, the court was not asked to review the religious liberty issues surrounding the contraception mandate. Rather, its decision dealt solely with the overarching law itself, particularly a requirement that virtually everyone must buy health insurance and a provision dealing with the expansion of Medicaid. The high court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by a vote of 5-4, but did not rule on the contraception mandate, a separate requirement issued by the Department of Health and Human Services under the authority of the act. This controversial mandate will require employers to offer health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and early abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences. Failure to comply will result in crippling fines. The mandate has been criticized by members of various religions and political affiliations, including bishops from every diocese of the U.S., who warned that it could force Catholic hospitals, schools and charitable agencies to close down. More than 50 plaintiffs – including nonprofit organizations, Catholic dioceses, religious universities and private business owners – have filed lawsuits against the mandate, arguing that it violates the religious liberty of individuals and organizations that object to its requirements. If the court had struck down the health care law, the mandate would have disappeared by default. Since it did not, Smith explained, the legal battles will move forward, untouched. However, she said, two statements in the June 28 decision hint at what the court’s future ruling on the contraception mandate could be. She pointed to the majority opinion, penned by Chief Justice John Roberts, which states, “Even if the taxing power enables Congress to impose a tax on not obtaining health insurance, any tax must still comply with other requirements in the Constitution.” The opinion of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, was even more explicit, she said. Ginsberg wrote, “A mandate to purchase a particular product would be unconstitutional if, for example, the edict impermissibly abridged the freedom of speech, interfered with the free exercise of religion, or infringed on a liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause.” The direct mention of religious freedom as a reason to find such a mandate unconstitutional is a hopeful sign in the battle over the contraception requirement, Smith said. She explained that these two statements are “essential” in suggesting that the court may strike down the contraception mandate if asked to rule on it, a positive indication for defenders of religious freedom. Mark Rienzi, law professor .......