88 Percent for Religious Freedom

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

The news ball that dropped on New Year’s Eve was that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor took time away from her midnight Times Square Waterford ball prep duties by temporarily coming to the aid of the conscience rights of Americans who faced a January health-care plan-deadline that would force them to choose between what they believe about the inviolability of human life, as well as contraception and sterilization, and pending fines by an Obamacare regulation.

Alliance Defending Freedom – which is representing clients suing the Obama administration, including Conestoga Wood Specialties, run by a Pennsylvania Mennonite family, whose case will be reviewed along with Hobby Lobby’s religious-liberty claim during the spring term — points out today that the Obama administration has suffered a bit of a losing streak in the courts on its abortion-drug, contraception, sterilization Obamacare Department of Health and Human Services mandate. By ADF’s tally, 88 percent of the court decisions on the mandate in 2013 went against the administration: 53–7.

From ADF’s release:

Courts issued a flurry of orders against the mandate even in the waning days of the year, including orders in Alliance Defending Freedom cases filed on behalf of non-profit Christian colleges and universities in California, IndianaOklahoma, and Pennsylvania. The score in favor of non-profit religious entities is 18-1; the score in favor of families doing business is 35-6.

“Unjust laws are not valid laws. In light of all the legal victories against the mandate, the wisest course is for the administration to stop wasting taxpayer resources on these cases and end its attacks on the First Amendment,” said Senior Counsel David Cortman.
“Many people have noted the administration’s failures and scandals over the past year, particularly with regard to Obamacare and government overreach,” added Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman, “but little illustrates that more concretely than the loss record on the abortion pill mandate.”

The mandate forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy financial penalties if the mandate’s requirements aren’t met.Most of the orders issued against the mandate so far have come in the form of preliminary injunctions, court orders that prohibit the administration from applying its mandate against the party that filed suit while the case moves forward. Preliminary injunctions are difficult to obtain because a court will only issue one if it is convinced that the party requesting the injunction is likely to win the case.

The lack of media interest in this story – beyond the claims of the administration about what it is — has been a gift to the administration. It’s also been a tad shocking, even as far as the media goes. (As I’ve pointed out before, it was a bit of a malpractice that the issue — and Cardinal Dolan’s recent court win on it in New Yorkdidn’t come up in the president’s final news conference of 2013.) The administration downright misleads and accuses people who raise serious concerns about fundamental constitutional principles of lying in order to plow ahead. The court record tells a story unto itself. Perhaps now we can talk about religious freedom in 2014 rather than false rhetoric designed to scare people into looking away from what’s really happening: a narrowing of religious liberty in America. There’s a world out there counting on us to be good stewards.  

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