Bench Memos

NYT Editorial on Catholic Challenges to HHS Mandate “Chock-Full of Errors”

In an excellent NRO essay today, law professor (and Becket Fund senior counsel) Mark L. Rienzi explains that a recent New York Times house editorial that criticized Catholic organizations for challenging the HHS mandate “is wrong in every conceivable way about the mandate, religious-liberty law, and the lawsuits.” (Anyone detect a pattern in NYT editorials?) Rienzi makes five straightforward points. Here’s an excerpt from his first point, his rebuttal of the insipid contention that the lawsuits seek to “impose one church’s doctrine”:

The question is not whether contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs will remain legal and available — it is whether religious organizations can be forced to provide free access to them. No one is forced to work for a Catholic institution. And those who do are perfectly free to get these drugs on their own, for free from the government, or from the many sources that willingly distribute them. Indeed, in no other context has anyone ever suggested that an employer’s failure to distribute an item for free is “imposing doctrine” on anyone. Catholic institutions also do not give out pornography, Big Macs, or trips to Disneyland. Failure to provide these things for free does not impose anything on anyone or restrict anyone’s freedom in any way. Overheated claims to the contrary cannot be taken seriously.

My Corner post last week on a badly confused New Yorker essay makes points similar to Rienzi’s, as does my more extended explanation of how the HHS mandate clearly violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

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