by Jeremy Leaming
Catholic bishops and right-wing pundits and politicians are still slathering over the Obama administration’s contraception rule that requires health insurance policies to provide free contraceptives for employees at religious affiliated universities, hospitals and charities.
On Friday after announcing a tweak to the rule – requiring insurance providers, not the religiously affiliated institutions to pay for the contraceptives – the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement blasting the change as “unacceptable,” and continued to tar the policy as a violation of their religious liberty rights. (The religious liberties violation is a canard. The policy applies generally to all groups, secular and religious. As ACSblog noted last week there are numerous laws of general applicability that impact religious practice without amounting to a violation of the First Amendment’s free exercise clause. The contraception policy from the White House already exempts houses of worship, allowing them to provide inadequate health care coverage to their employees if they wish.)
Nonetheless, Religious Right outfits, and not surprisingly many politicians, aren’t letting go of this one.
For example, U.S. Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) dished up hyperbole in a discussion of the Obama administration’s health care policy on CNN. Video of the segment is below.
Rep. Mack claimed the flare-up over the contraception rule proved that the Obama “administration doesn’t believe that the Constitution and that personal freedoms and liberties matter. And it is an assault on our freedoms. So whether it is Obamacare forcing people to buy something they may not want to buy, and now this reaching into the church, and forcing the church to do something that is against its own tenants, this shows an arrogance.”
“He’s a lawyer,” Mack continued, “and he is showing that the words of the Constitution don’t matter to him.”
Regarding the administration’s landmark health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, numerous constitutional law scholars have argued that the law’s minimum coverage provision, which starting in 2014 will require people who can afford it to obtain minimum health insurance coverage or pay a penalty, is a lawful regulation either under Congress’s power to regulate commerce or its taxing power.