Why the Bishops’ Lawsuits Are Necessary
Posted by John Jansen (May 22, 2012 at 3:51 pm)
Yesterday, 43 Catholic institutions filed suit against the Obama Administration over the HHS Mandate.
News of these lawsuits shouldn’t come as a surprise. Since early March, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has been all but guaranteeing that lawsuits would be filed.
A few weeks later, Dolan, appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation, said, “We didn’t ask for this fight, but we won’t back away from it.”
Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon points out in the Wall Street Journal how it’s come to this in an op-ed appropriately titled, “Why the Bishops Are Suing the U.S. Government” that is accompanied by a picture of some of the 2,300 participants at the Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally in Philadelphia on March 23 (see above, right).
Professor Glendon writes:
The main goal of the mandate is not, as HHS claimed, to protect women’s health. It is rather a move to conscript religious organizations into a political agenda, forcing them to facilitate and fund services that violate their beliefs, within their own institutions.
The media have implied all along that the dispute is mainly of concern to a Catholic minority with peculiar views about human sexuality. But religious leaders of all faiths have been quick to see that what is involved is a flagrant violation of religious freedom. That’s why former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, declared, “We’re all Catholics now.”
More is at stake here than the mission of all churches, including the Catholic Church, to provide social services like health care and education to everyone regardless of creed, and to do so without compromising their beliefs. At the deepest level, we are witnessing an attack on the institutions of civil society that are essential to limited government and are important buffers between the citizen and the all-powerful state.
If religious providers of education, health care and social services are closed down or forced to become tools of administration policy, the government consolidates a monopoly over those essential services.
Professor Glendon’s piece can be read in its entirety here.