Saturday, February 11, 2012

Do Catholic Bishops Not Have A Religious Freedom Claim Here in Birth Control Mandate Case ?

From Religious Dispatches Bishops Have No Religious Freedom Claim

POSNER: It does not violate the First Amendment. The bishops are misrepresenting a legal issue in order to create a political issue. There are 28 states, in addition to Massachusetts, in which these very similar requirements are in place. In New York and California, the Catholic Charities challenged these laws and lost.
The courts held that these laws did not violate the Catholics’ — or any religious group’s — free exercise of religion, that in order for a law to violate somebody’s free exercise, it has to impinge — substantially burden — their religious practice. And there is no substantial burden on Catholics’ religious practice by providing coverage — insurance coverage for contraception for other people.
...

First it should be clear that these laws often allow other exceptions. Also some of these laws are still being challenged .

Second and this is critical the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which offers significant protections to the religious freedom is not available as a cause of action against STATE and LOCAL actors. The Supreme court ruled so in the City of Boerne v. Flores decision because it exceeded Congress's power under the 14th amendment. However as a FEDERAL Cause of action it is still used.

For instance lets look at the Anti Shari law passed in Oklahoma. The RFFA is not available there as a cause of action so they must depend on other defenses. If the Congress and President had signed the Anti Shari Law act then people would have the RFFA as a avenue of protection.

I am not saying that the Catholic Bishops and other interested parties case against the proposed Birth Control Mandate is a slam dunk. That is why I urge direct political action to have this removed so we don't place our hopes in the Court. But it's a significant arrow the Bishops and other people of Faith have in this situation

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