The Corner

What Now for Religious Freedom?

A second term of President Obama will affect whole wide world on religious liberty. Richard Doerflinger previews some domestic options in an interview with the National Catholic Register:

 

Post-election, what are the prospects on Capitol Hill of passing legislation that strengthens conscience protections to remedy the problem?

The election left things largely as they were: We count the same number of votes in the new Senate as in the old — not in terms of party affiliation, but in terms of pro-life position.

Olympia Snowe [R-Maine], who regularly voted against our legislation, is gone. But the new Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., has almost always voted to support pro-life legislation.

The only time that a conscience measure for the mandate was considered in the Senate it got 48 votes, with very little time to explain the issues.

Getting to 50 or 51 votes in the Senate could happen, especially if you can attach legislation to a must-pass vehicle, where you have leverage to trade back and forth, to get policy riders approved. We are not giving up on that and will continue to pursue this agenda.

Would the president sign such a measure into law?

Perhaps if the alternative is to veto a bill he favors, like an entire appropriations bill. Then perhaps he would.

If the courts are continuing to bring injunctions against the mandate, the administration may not want to continue pursing 35 different lawsuits on this and will perhaps back down.

At this point, how might the House press for a legislative remedy to the mandate?

There is a continuing resolution that keeps the government funded until March. They don’t have to do the appropriations bill until then, but there are rumors that Congress and the White House — to avert the “fiscal cliff” — will have to do a deal on revenue and spending. Some would like the appropriations bill to be part of that [remedy]. Even before the end of this year, we may have a debate on this issue.

Right now, the House committee draft of the Labor/HHS appropriations bill has language like that of the Fortenberry-Blunt bill. I believe the House leadership will fight for that in negotiations with the Senate. Where that comes on the priorities list, we can’t say.

It is now becoming very clear that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay and that we really need relief. We will be urging Catholics to write to their congressional representatives in support of that provision — Section 537 of the Labor/HHS appropriations bill.

We see every reason to continue our efforts in both Congress and the courts and to continue to ask the administration to take a more flexible view of the conscience issues involved.

I am in the odd position of being hopeful about the courts here. In Supreme Court has found Obama administration policy on religious liberty absurd and given what the Department of Justice has been arguing in federal court lately, this judicial trend could continue. 

Most Popular

Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More