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New reflections on the Obama mandate

February 15, 2012

  • In the Wall Street Journal, two former officials of the US Justice Department argue that the HHS mandate is both illegal (because it violates the terms of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993) and unconstitutional. It is illegal, say David Rivkin and Edward Whelan, because the 1993 bill stipulates that federal government actions can “substantially burden” religions only “in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest,” and there is no demonstrated compelling interest in this case. As for constitutionality, the authors argue that the Obama administration “seems more interested in punishing religiously based opposition to contraception and abortion than in marginally increasing access to contraception services.” The obvious political motive for the mandate underlines the assault on religious freedom, Rivlin and Whelan say.
  • In National Review, Conrad Black sees an “epochal turning point” in the coming battle over the mandate. “This could be something of a Catholic moment, as the Church leads resistance to a desiccated, double-dealing, pandering, and post-Christian state,” he says.
  • Also in National Review, George Weigel offers further thoughts on the campaign by the Obama team to divide Catholics, and to give the government—rather than the hierarchy—the final say on which Catholic opinions should be judged authoritative. “In the administration’s view, then, primacy in the Catholic Church is not conferred by the pope, but by the White House,” Weigel writes.


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