Excellent reading from Jay Bookman at the AJC regarding the Catholic bishops claiming that President Obama can’t require insurance companies to cover contraceptives.
In fact, a century of American jurisprudence – including Antonin Scalia himself – prove that you can, and should.Scalia, himself a devout and very conservative Catholic, wrote in the majority decision:
“We have never held that an individual’s religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate. On the contrary, the record of more than a century of our free exercise jurisprudence contradicts that proposition.”
Scalia traces Supreme Court rulings on the issue back to an 1879 decision that upheld federal laws against polygamy. A member of the Mormon Church had argued that because his faith required men to marry multiple wives, polygamy was protected under the First Amendment and that Mormons could claim a religious exemption from such a law.
Might be a good time to ask Mr. Romney if he thinks the United States’ no-polygamy rule was an attack on the freedom of religion of Mormons.
I love this part too:
The most relevent to the current controversy is a a 1982 case that closely parallels the current discussion over contraception. In United States v. Lee, the Supreme Court found that there was nothing unconstitutional in requiring an Amish employer to withhold and pay Social Security taxes for his workers even though “the Amish faith prohibited participation in governmental support programs.”
Here’s how they put it:
“When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes that are binding on others in that activity. Granting an exemption from social security taxes to an employer operates to impose the employer’s religious faith on the employees.”
Not that this should surprise anyone, but the Catholic bishops are actually trying to impose their religious beliefs on their own employees, including their employees who aren’t even Catholic (of course, even their Catholics employees don’t agree with the bishops). How does Mitt Romney feel about the employees’ freedom of religion? Or was he just grandstanding, as usual, on an issue that he held a 180 degree different view just six years ago?