Today’s Questions for the President

by Peter Kirsanow

Yesterday, more than 40 employers, including a number of Catholic dioceses and religious institutions such as the University of Notre Dame, sued your administration to enjoin and vacate the HHS mandate that employers provide or facilitate provision of abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception services to their employees (unless such employers demonstrate to the government that the employers are sufficiently “religious.”)

In a 2009 speech at Notre Dame, you stated that your administration would honor the consciences of those who oppose abortion. In 2010, in order to secure the votes needed to pass Obamacare, you issued Executive Order 13,535, purporting to restrict federal agencies from authorizing or requiring the funding of abortion services. In 2011, you promised Timothy Cardinal (then Archbishop) Dolan that you would protect the rights of conscience of the Catholic Church.

How do you reconcile the HHS mandate with your speech at Notre Dame?

How do you reconcile the HHS mandate with Executive Order 13,535?

How do you reconcile the HHS mandate with your promise to Cardinal Dolan?

As a former lecturer in constitutional law, could you please explain how the HHS mandate is consistent with either the Free Exercise or Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment?

How is the HHS mandate not a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act prohibiting the government from substantially burdening a person’s free exercise of religion?

What compelling interest does the federal government have in forcing Notre Dame, et al, to provide abortifacient, sterilization, and contraception services in violation of the employers’ religious tenets? Isn’t there a less burdensome way of accomplishing your objective?

How will the federal government determine whether Notre Dame or any other institution is sufficiently “religious” to be exempt from the HHS mandate? What qualifies the government to make that determination?

Why did your administration promulgate these rules without notice or an opportunity for public comment as required by the Administrative Procedure Act?

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