Color me naive but I thought the Obama administration would not go here. Guess I was wrong. I suspect the reaction will fast , furious and indeed prolonged.
As many people that have concerns over religious liberty have tried to argue this issue and now precedent goes beyond issues of Catholics and birth control. I will be putting up links all day.PUTTING THIS AT THE TOP - Catholic Bishop Conference RESPONDS
Whispers has two article at Exemption, Denied
A site to watch today Mirrors of Justice has their first post up at Obama holds firm on contraceptive coverage mandate
From a voice on the left that is thrilled with this Religious Dispatches has Obama Administration Rules Religious Institutions Must Comply with Contraception Mandate ( Note Catholics For Choice is quoted here.
A Progressive Catholic voice of some note is not pleased. We also learn that Obama personally called up Archbishop ( soon to be Cardinal) Dolan and informed here of their decision. See White House refuses to expand conscience exemption . He minces no words here and again take note this is from a Obama policy friendly person:
To say that news of the decision by President Obama not to expand the conscience exemption for church-affiliated institutions who do not wish to cover birth control is a disaster would be a gross understatement. I'll explain my thoughts on the subject in a subsequent post.
But one sentence in the statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stands out: “The administration remains fully committed to its partnerships with faith-based organizations, which promote healthy communities and serve the common good.”
What can those words “fully committed” possibly mean? They have punched Sr. Carol Keehan and Fr. Jenkins and many other Catholics who have taken shots for this Administration in the nose. They have jumped over the First Amendment to coerce religious organizations to do something we find morally objectionable. They have given people who loved the Affordable Care Act reason for pause, great pause. They have given the Republicans a huge battering ram with which to beat swing voting Catholics over the head.
I say “they,” but the full responsibility for this decision rests with the President. NCR has learned that the President called Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. bishops' conference, this morning to tell him the news. Wouldn’t you have liked to be on an extension to listen in on that conversation. The president looked Dolan in the eye in November and said he would be pleased with his decision. I am guessing that Dolan is not pleased. He is not alone.
Not buying this optimism from the The Beckett Fund and I urge non Legal folks to take with a grain of salt this :“The administration has seen the writing on the wall. They know that this mandate cannot survive constitutional scrutiny any more than their ‘extreme’ position in Hosanna-Tabor did. So the administration is trying to delay the inevitable judgment day,” Hmmm. There will no doubt be a legal battle ,but I might suggest this is not the slam dunk the Beckett Fund think it is. Direct political challenge I feel is going to have to be relied on here.
What makes this bad is this is now a FEDERAL MANDATE. Some Catholic Institutions have had to operate under similar LOCAL laws. Those I believed have NOT found to be un constitutional in all regards. Now just because something might be Constitutional does not make it good policy. But regardless I am wary that a legal challenge here has a preordained result.
Many more updates later on throughout the day.