On Monday, District Judge Brian Cogan of the Eastern District of New York ruled that the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate “accommodation” was unconstitutional, violating the First Amendment protection of freedom of religion.
The Department of Health and Human Services issued regulations in the aftermath of the passage of Obamacare requiring that religious-owned institutions pay for group health insurance plans including contraception, sterilization, and related counseling. HHS then created a supposed “accommodation” designed to sell insurance plans to employers that avoided religion-violating services, but then provide such services to that employer’s workers.
The plaintiffs in this particular case were New York organizations affiliated with the Catholic Church and not covered by the exemptions created by the Obama administration for churches.
Judge Cogan ruled that the mandate violated the Constitution. “[T]he Mandate,” Cogan wrote, “directly compels plaintiffs through threat of onerous penalties, to undertake actions their religion forbids.” Cogan said, “it is not the Court’s role to say that plaintiffs are wrong about their religious beliefs.” Cogan added, “the Mandate burdens plaintiffs’ religion by coercing them into authorizing third parties to provide this coverage through the self-certification requirement, an act forbidden by plaintiffs’ religion.”
This makes the third court, after District Court Judge Joy Flowers Conti of the Western District of Pennsylvania, and District Judge Arthur J. Schwab of the Western District of Pennsylvania, to reject the HHS’ “accommodation.”
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.