Obama administration employs absurd arguments to defend contraceptive mandate

Jordan Sekulow and Matthew Clark Executive Director, Associate Counsel, ACLJ
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Not only is religious liberty under a full-fledged assault from the Obama Administration’s HHS Mandate, so is apparently any semblance of logic.

Late New Years Eve, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted an emergency stay temporarily blocking application of the Mandate to one particular group challenging the regulation.

The HHS Mandate forces all employers, regardless of their religious beliefs, to pay for and provide insurance coverage for all forms of contraceptives, including abortion pills.

The fact that Justice Sotomayor granted the emergency injunction is not a surprise. The Supreme Court has already agreed to consider two cases by Christian owned for-profit businesses challenging the mandate. However, this was the first non-profit case to be addressed by the high Court.

Now in the case at hand, a religious charity, Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged, challenged the Mandate. Yes, you read that right; the Obama Administration was attempting to force a group of Catholic nuns to violate their deeply held religious beliefs by purchasing contraceptives and abortion pills.

It’s like a bad Hollywood script – an abusive and corrupt government attempting to force nuns to buy contraceptives and abortion pills in direct contravention of their religious liberty.

Yet, this week the script got a lot worse.

Little Sisters for the Poor, a Catholic non-profit organization, provides health insurance for its employees. Like many other non-profits and for-profit business alike, the nuns operate their charity according to their faith. If it isn’t painfully obvious already, their faith itself is the entire reason for their existence as an organization. And like many other faiths, the sanctity of life is a vital part of their religious beliefs.

News flash: Nuns, as a general rule, don’t support or pay for abortion in any way shape or form.

You don’t have to be a Catholic, a Christian, or even religious at all to understand that forcing Catholic nuns – or a Christian pro-life group for example – to pay for something the directly violates a core tenant of their faith is not only wrong, it’s unconstitutional.

After months of strong public pressure, the Obama Administration attempted to appease people of faith by proposing an “accommodation” of religious liberty.

That “accommodation” was nothing more than a PR slight of hand, an accounting gimmick, in order to pacify, and in actuality fool, the opponents of the abortion-pill mandate into complacent submission.

Now, the Obama DOJ has actually attempted to make a legal argument out of this nonsense.

In a response opposing Justice Sotomayor’s emergency injunction, the Obama DOJ argued to the Supreme Court on Friday that the religious charity was already “exempt” from the Mandate. DOJ wrote, “They need only self-certify that they are non-profit organizations that hold themselves out as religious and have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services.”

That sounds great, until you read the fine print. What the DOJ is arguing in accordance with the Obama administration’s “accommodation” is that the religious organization can object to paying for the abortion pills, but that an insurance company is still required to cover contraceptives and abortion pills in the employees’ plans. They argue that the religious employer then isn’t paying for the abortion-pill coverage; the insurance company is just offering it for “free” to the employees. And in this particular case, the DOJ is relying on the fact that the insurance company here happens to also be a religious insurer, which it claims could also exempt itself from having to provide the mandated coverage, if it so chooses, under a complicated and cumbersome legal regulatory framework. But that is a big “if.”

Sound like a sham? Well, it is. Who is paying the insurance company for the insurance plan? The employer. Then who is paying for the contraceptives and abortion-pill coverage?

Regardless of how they want to slice it publicly, the fact remains that legally the only one paying for the insurance coverage, and everything in it, is the religious employer.

The Obama administration’s legal argument that somehow the insurance company is providing “free” contraceptives and abortion pills to the employees that aren’t being paid for by the employer is an absolute absurdity.

It would be like crack-smoking Toronto Mayor Rob Ford arguing that he got a “buy a crack pipe and get the crack free” deal from his dealer and therefore didn’t buy the crack itself.

Putting aside the Obama administration’s Orwellian logic, the fact remains: the Obamacare’s HHS Mandate forces these Catholic nuns, along with Christian pro-life organizations, religious schools, hospitals, and Christian owned businesses to directly violate their religious beliefs.

In America, the land of the free, where our religious liberty was secured in the very First Amendment to our Constitution through the blood, sweat, and tears of our ancestors, no one should be forced to violate their faith by paying for abortion pills

That’s the exact issue the high Court will be addressing when in considers two consolidated HHS Mandate cases later this year.

Jordan Sekulow is executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). Matthew Clark is an attorney at the ACLJ. Follow them on Twitter: @JordanSekulow and @_MatthewClark.