The firestorm of controversy over the January 20th HHS mandate requiring Catholic and other religious organizations to pay for contraception, sterilization and abortifacient drugs for their employees shows no sign of abating. This is notwithstanding the Obama administration's "accommodation," announced last Friday, that will permit insurance companies to pass the cost of contraception, sterilization and abortifacient drugs along to Catholic and other religious employers - as long as they do so surreptitiously, of course.
Catholics bishops and countless others have characterized this regulation as direct government interference with the free exercise of religion and thus unconstitutional. In this, they are correct.
Where many critics and commentators lapse, however, is in viewing this recent power grab by Obama as an aberration, a surprise, or a betrayal. It is no such thing.
It is not merely that Obama is disdainful of religious faith - though he clearly is, save when he can appeal to it as a call for higher taxes. He is not singling out Catholics, or Christians generally, or even the First Amendment. It is that he has no respect for any of the rights in the U.S. Constitution. Or, to put it more specifically, he has no respect for the structure of the United States Constitution, nor any intention of acknowledging the limits to government deliberately drafted into it; limits that are a function of the rights the Constitution expressly identifies as inherent in human beings generally and vested (at least by virtue of this document) in American citizens in particular.
Laura Hollis is an Associate Professional Specialist and Concurrent Associate Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches entrepreneurship and business law. She is the author of the forthcoming publication, “Start Up, Screw Up, Scale Up: What Government Can Learn From the Best Entrepreneurs,” © 2014. Her opinions are her own, and do not reflect the position of the university. Follow her on Twitter: @LauraHollis61.