WASHINGTON – The kindest slant one can put on the Obama administration’s perversity in pushing its contraception mandate on Catholic and other Christian institutions is that it desperately needs the issue to validate the supposed Republican “war on women.”
So far, the administration’s attempts to force nonprofit religious organizations to purchase contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs have been knocked down by the courts 30 times, and been upheld only three times, according to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
Now. fresh from its latest defeat, from the U.S. Supreme Court no less, here comes Obama again. We’re not talking about the controversial Hobby Lobby case, a stretch by the court to uphold the right of a closely held corporation to deny its employees access to these services.
No, we’re referring to the July 3 ruling by a majority of the court to allow Wheaton College, a Christian school in Illinois, temporary relief from the Obama rules and the heavy fines that the government could impose.
This ruling extends to Wheaton the same temporary relief the court extended in January to the Little Sisters of the Poor and 400 other Christian nonprofits.
Here’s the new Obama thrust. The conservative Weekly Standard and the Wall Street Journal report that an unnamed administration official has said the Obama regime said it would come up with a new gimmick to force the charities, colleges and other non-profits to comply.
A spokesman for the Becket Fund said this is the seventh time in three years that the government has retreated from its original position that the only persons exempted were those of the same religion and working within religiously segregated nonprofits.
This new rule, the Obama official said, will be made public within a month – fresh fodder for the upcoming off-year elections to the House and Senate.
Until then no details will be available. The accommodation that was knocked down July 3 required individuals who objected to the mandate to sign a form saying why they didn’t agree to the mandate; then insurers would be required to provide the drugs/services to employees at no cost. Allegedly.
This accommodation by the Obama administration was widely denounced as an accounting gimmick. The costs of these services would have to be passed on, somehow.
Why the Obama administration doesn’t just drop the idea of imposing its secularist values on nonprofits will be left to history. Certainly, the government has plenty of precedent for leniency. It has delayed and modified the employer mandate many times. Literally thousands of favored employers and unions have been exempted entirely from complying with the Affordable Care Act.
The situation enjoyed by nonprofits such as religious colleges, hospitals and charities is different from the decision handed down in the Hobby Lobby case, which gave closely held corporate entities the right to set religious standards for the types of health insurance they provided employees.
The 5-4 Hobby Lobby case was based not on the bill of rights but on a 1993 law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The original intent of RFRA was to guarantee liberty to individuals. However, the court extended this power to corporations. It was a narrow case that made for very bad law and has rightly angered a lot of reasonable people.
Among those who got carried away was Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., who seemed to be setting up his own religious test when he declared:
“We wouldn’t tell the owners of Hobby Lobby to convert to a different religion or disobey their religion. But we don’t say that they have to open a company and go sell toys or hobby kits.”