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Obamacare is constitutional, contraceptive mandate is not, bishop argues

Catholic World News - March 26, 2012

A Catholic bishop voiced his opinion that the “Obamacare” health reform as a whole is constitutional, but the contraceptive mandate for religious institutions is not, in a speech at Catholic University.

Bishop Thomas Curry, an auxiliary of the Los Angeles archdiocese and former chairman of the US bishops’ committee on Catholic education, said that the contraceptive mandate is a striking example of government interference in religious affairs. He said: “If one were to set out to write a law in violation of the First Amendment, to write a regulation giving power to government in religious matters, one would be challenged to come up with a better sample than this exemption.”

In his address Bishop Curry retraced the history of the American legal tradition regarding Church-state affairs, noting that the First Amendment bans government interference in religious affairs. The interpretation of that constitutional principle has changed over time, he said, largely because of the influence of anti-Catholicism, as Americans have come to tolerate government involvement in religion.

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  • Posted by: unum - Mar. 27, 2012 8:14 AM ET USA

    Memo to Justice Roberts: You can call off the hearings. Bishop Curry has already decided that the mandate for government specified free contraception is constitutional. Therefore, there should be no question that the mandate to buy government specified health insurance is also constitutional. Add Bishop Curry to the list of bishops who have been educated beyond their capacity.

  • Posted by: filioque - Mar. 27, 2012 12:58 AM ET USA

    The bishops have been talking about a "right" to health care and trying to get the government into it since 1919. Short of arranging marriages, what area could be more intimate and more fraught with moral issues than health care? What did the bishops think they were going to get from the government? The whole scheme completely destroys our pre-Constitutional freedoms from undue interference by the government in our personal lives.

  • Posted by: polish.pinecone4371 - Mar. 27, 2012 12:20 AM ET USA

    It's clear the HHS mandate is unconstitutional. First Amendment and all that. ObamaCare is constitutional? Not so much. Especially since the Supreme Court is having three days of hearings on the matter. And won't rule for a number of months. Some advice for Bishop Curry -- stick with what you know.

  • Posted by: sarsok8679 - Mar. 26, 2012 7:47 PM ET USA

    This shows us that the hierarchy of the Church in America does not understand or care what the cost of Obamacare is on the taxpayers. They do not sow nor reap, they put burdens on us, they take without regard to the cost. It is not the job of the government to provide healthcare, but it is the role of the Church. Too often, the Church defers to the government. With the conscience clause they are reaping what they have sowed.

  • Posted by: Defender - Mar. 26, 2012 7:43 PM ET USA

    Overall Obamacare is constitutional? Given how our government works, I'm sure they could come up with something like they did for federal income taxes. This doesn't mean it's legal, though. As for the bishop, he was the Chairman of the Committee for Catholic Education - have any of the Catholic universities had their people sign mandatums yet (including the ones in the LA archdiocese)? Of course not.

  • Posted by: Savonarola - Mar. 26, 2012 5:41 PM ET USA

    There is a time to speak and a time not to speak. This bishop has no business interpreting the Constitution for us and he does not help the low credibility that the bishops are already suffering under because of their failure to teach and their complicity in the abuse-and-coverup scandal.

  • Posted by: Colonel Joe - Mar. 26, 2012 5:39 PM ET USA

    Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's. Me thinks the good bishop (and all bishops for that matter) should spend more time tending the flock and less time becoming politicians.

  • Posted by: normnuke - Mar. 26, 2012 4:00 PM ET USA

    No knowldgeable legal thinker could support the constitutionality of the violation of conscience coercion implicit in Obamacare. Whether any of the rest of it is in accord with our Constitution is a matter for legal scholars. At this juncture for a bishop to declare it constitutional only gives the impression of playing footsie and will be used as such.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Mar. 26, 2012 3:33 PM ET USA

    Ahem. Is the good Bishop unaware that defining constitutionality is not in his job description, any more than defining Catholic teaching is in President Obama's?

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