Multiple media outlets and far-left groups have savaged faithful Catholics and Protestants over this past week after the Supreme Court held that Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). National Democratic leaders endorsing this anti-Christian discrimination show that America’s founding freedom is in grave danger, as they move a bill to abolish RFRA’s protections.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) requires employers to cover “preventive care.” Reportedly against the advice of even pro-abortion Catholics like former White House Chief of Staff William Daley, President Barack Obama authorized a federal regulation interpreting “preventive care” to include types of contraceptives that induce abortion.
On June 30 in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Breitbart News reported in detail how the Supreme Court held 5-to-4 that at least some types of corporations can assert religious-liberty rights, which is hardly surprising since most churches are corporations.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the Court that the contraceptive mandate violates RFRA for those who object to abortion, since that regulation is not the least restrictive means to achieve a compelling public interest.
Hobby Lobby was about abortion, not birth control. Moreover, it wasn’t about access to abortion; it was about whether a Christian employer who objects to abortion has a right not to pay for the abortion.
While it’s unsurprising the Left has been apoplectic over the decision, the viciousness and vitriol of liberals’ reactions are sobering.
A prime example of this hostility is seen in a Salon magazine article lambasting the decision, which reads:
The hyper religious conservatives on the bench of the nation’s highest court, all of whom were appointed by Republican presidents, see the federal government as being controlled by “secular humanists” who wish to make war against the purity of the Christian belief system. Like the 89 million Americans who count themselves as evangelicals, they seek total cultural and political domination.
To any reasonable person (which evidently excludes the wild-eyed anti-Christian zealots at Salon), there is not a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, religious or otherwise. Chief Justice John Roberts is a moderate conservative at best, as seen in more than a dozen cases over the past nine years, most notably his creating a massive and unprecedented federal taxing power to save Obamacare in NFIB v. Sebelius.
Meanwhile Justice Anthony Kennedy is a strict moderate whose opinions are sometimes in blatant contradiction to the Catholic faith. In the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, he was the fifth and deciding vote to reaffirm the holding from Roe v. Wade that the Constitution includes an invisible right to abortion. His rulings advancing the LGBT social agenda–most recently striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the 2013 case U.S. v. Windsor–necessarily reject Catholic teaching on the nature, purpose, and public-policy justifications of marriage, all of which were presented to the Court in various legal briefs.
Beyond that, Kennedy has been consistently moderate throughout his tenure on the Supreme Court. Among many examples that could be given, he was the fifth vote: (1) to embrace liberal global warming arguments in Massachusetts v. EPA, (2) to reject the Constitution’s Commerce Clause’s limits on federal drug laws in Gonzales v. Raich, (3) to abolish not just the death penalty but even life imprisonment for even heinous and depraved murders if the criminal was seventeen years old (and thus not an adult) in Miller v. Alabama, and (4) conferring full habeas corpus rights on enemy military combatants captured on foreign battlefields at war against the United States in Boumediene v. Bush.
Kennedy reaffirmed his non-conservative bona fides again just days before Hobby Lobby was handed down. On June 26, he was the fifth vote with the liberals in NLRB v. Noel Canning, which narrowly held Obama’s recess appointments were unconstitutional because the president has no such power during Senate adjournments of less than ten days. Kennedy refused to join the four more conservative justices’ concurring opinion–which would have made it the majority opinion with full force of law–that the Constitution only allows presidents to make recess appointments during the short period of the annual year-end recess, and even then only for vacancies that arise during that short recess.
So there is no right-wing cabal on the Supreme Court, Christian or otherwise. Conservatives of all faiths–including not just observant Christians but also Jews, Muslims, and others–are painfully reminded several times each year on a variety of issues that the current Supreme Court is moderate, not conservative.
But that doesn’t fit the media’s narrative. Other media outlets also betray their strong anti-Christian bias, albeit without the hateful rhetoric exhibited by Salon.
At The Huffington Post, Ronald Lindsay follows a chilling line of inquiry in response to Hobby Lobby, writing, “the question needs to be asked: Is it appropriate to have six Catholic justices on the Supreme Court?” HuffPo laments “how closely the majority adheres to Catholic teaching.”
Again, if that were true, then Roe v. Wade would have been overruled in 1992, so abortion would again be a state issue instead of a constitutional right. Moreover, every provision of DOMA would still be on the books, and traditional marriage would not currently be in danger in the courts.
HuffPo’s ignorance regarding the relevant theology is seen in conflating Catholic doctrine with the Evangelical and Mennonite beliefs of the actual plaintiffs in Hobby Lobby and its companion case, Conestoga–none of whom were Catholic. HuffPo claims Alito was using “Catholic teaching about ‘complicity'” to say that forcing an employer to pay for abortion violates their religious faith.
Instead, it is the Protestant theology of the Green family that owns Hobby Lobby and the Hahn family that owns Conestoga Wood Specialties that led those owners to object to financing abortion. And the belief that facilitating an immoral act makes you complicit in the act is found in many faiths, not just Christian.
Even more alarming than the media’s subordinating religious liberty (which is in the Constitution) to abortion (which is not in the Constitution) is that leading Democrats–one of whom may become America’s next president–are pursuing this same radical agenda that allows no place for people of faith to peacefully live out their faith in their daily business life.
The top Democrat in the House, Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), responded to Hobby Lobby with a statement including, “the Supreme Court took an outrageous step against the rights of America’s women, setting a dangerous precedent…”
RFRA was passed unanimously–without a single dissenting vote–in the U.S. House, passed the Senate 97-3, and then was signed into law by a pro-abortion Democrat, President Bill Clinton. Nonetheless, the Senate’s current ruler, Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), vowed, “We’re going to do something about the Hobby Lobby legislation we need to correct.”
Now it’s happening. Democrats are advancing S. 1696, entitled “The Women’s Health Protection Act,” to feed the White House’s narrative of a war on women. The bill was filed by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) last November, and now it’s being moved in committee in an effort to create federal law that would supersede anyone’s rights of religious conscience not to participate in abortion.
Even if this bill does not become law during Obama’s presidency, the threat will evidently continue. The frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, condemned the Supreme Court’s holding that Americans have a religious-liberty right not to participate in abortion. “This is a really bad, slippery slope,” Clinton said.
This anti-Christian extremism would grind into the dirt no fewer than four provisions in the U.S. Constitution, as well as a federal statute. The First Amendment includes a fundamental right to the free exercise of religion, which government cannot abridge. If RFRA were abolished, observant Christians could still raise a defense under the Free Exercise Clause against the Obamacare mandate.
Second, the First Amendment includes the Establishment Clause right that the government cannot coerce any person to participate in a government-created religion. Third, the Free Speech Clause secures a fundamental right to speak and express religious beliefs. And fourth–relevant to the criticism of having six Catholics on the Supreme Court–the Religious Test Clause requires that the federal government can never deny any person any public office–such as being a federal judge–because of that person’s religious beliefs.
Ironically, although there are 90 million self-professed Evangelical Christians in America, not a single Evangelical has sat on the Supreme Court in multiple decades. Don’t expect those on the Left making anti-Catholic statements to call for the president to fill the next vacancy on the Court with a devout Evangelical in the name of diversity.
Democrats believe they can use Hobby Lobby to make birth control an issue in 2014. Instead, conservative Republicans need to make sure that religious liberty and the future of the Supreme Court are central issues in 2016.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal analyst for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.