I've gotten some very interesting emails regarding President Obama's mandate commanding Roman Catholics (and many evangelical Protestants) to violate their consciences by providing mandatory contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing pharmaceuticals. The emailers noted that Obama’s action will force Catholics to challenge the president in court, particularly given that bishops are saying they will not comply with the law. It could mean another constitutional showdown over "Obama-care," one that could likewise end up in the Supreme Court. Imagine: "The Catholic Bishops v. Obama."
What a fitting capstone to the Obama presidency. And imagine that a majority of professing Roman Catholics elected this man in November 2008.
If this issue goes to the high court, I wouldn’t bet my money on Obama, even with the two new "pro-choice," pro-Roe liberals he added to the bench: Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. Even the most "progressive" Supreme Court justice cannot avoid that old freedom-of-religion thing in the First Amendment.
All of that is remarkable enough. But I find it especially ironic given two other fascinating current news item relating to the Constitution:
Last week, President Obama did an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer. Obama expressed frustration at his inability to be the "transformational political figure" Americans elected. The "change agent" lamented that this was the fault of the American Founders—who Obama refers to as "men of property and wealth"—and their Constitution. Obama told Lauer:
What’s frustrated people is that I have not been able to force Congress to implement every aspect of what I said in 2008. Well, it turns out our Founders designed a system that makes it more difficult to bring about change that I would like sometimes. But what I have been able to do is move in the right direction. And what I’m going to keep on doing is plot away, very persistent.
Ah, that old Constitution again.
Obama is quite correct. His primary obstacle is the Founders' system of separation of powers and checks and balances. His problem is a Congress and Supreme Court that is empowered to say, "No, Mr. President, that isn’t constitutional. You can’t do that in America."
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of the book, “The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.” His other books include "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism" and "Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century."