Monday, February 18, 2013
Defining religious liberty: Obama v. Constitution
Although President Obama asserted in his recent inaugural address that "being true to our founding documents…does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way," nine recent federal court decisions indicate that Mr. Obama's definition of religious liberty is not true to the Constitution.
Forcing religious objectors to submit to his administration's contraceptives and sterilization mandate violates not only the broad "free exercise" of religion and conscience under the First Amendment but also federal law requiring the government to demonstrate a "compelling justification" and employ "the least restrictive means" to avoid "substantially burden[ing] religious exercise."
Forcing religious charities to participate in providing conscientiously objectionable contraceptives or else pay draconian fines hardly meets the "least restrictive means" test when existing government health programs could accomplish the goal. And President Obama himself undermined any notion of a "compelling justification" when he asserted that 99 percent of women already use contraceptives, thus ranking them among the least necessary products to provide under government compulsion.
Now that the mandate has served its apparent purpose of stirring up the President's political base to vote to oppose an imagined "war on women," the President should realign his health policies with the Constitution.