With regard to the ongoing legal battles against the HHS contraceptive mandate, attorneys at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty see small but hopeful signs in last week's Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare.
Hannah Smith, Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund, said in a conference call with the media that the majority opinion penned by Chief Justice John Roberts leaves the door open to additional constitutional challenges. The opinion states
, “Even if the taxing power enables Congress to impose a tax on not obtaining health insurance, any tax must still comply with other requirements in the Constitution.”
The opinion of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, explicitly names "the free exercise of religion" as a stop to the government's power. She wrote
, “A mandate to purchase a particular product would be unconstitutional if, for example, the edict impermissibly abridged the freedom of speech, interfered with the free exercise of religion, or infringed on a liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause.”
That direct mention is a hopeful sign in the battle for religious freedom, Smith said.
Mark Rienzi, law professor at The Catholic University of America and senior counsel at the Becket Fund, was also on the call and added that it is “commonplace” for courts to find a regulation unconstitutional even when the law under which it was issued is constitutionally acceptable.
Rienzi noted that Belmont Abbey College was the first to file suit in November, so that case is the furthest along. "We're now going to forge ahead and make our argument to the district court," he said.
The Becket Fund is representing Belmont Abbey College, Ave Maria University and EWTN among others.
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