Religious freedom — the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty staunchly defends our right, while the Obama administration staunchly attacks our right. Look no further than ObamaCare, which seeks to force believers to abandon their religious views and submit to government first, or face government sanction. In a Carolina Journal Radio interview from earlier this year, Eric Kniffin of the Beckett Fund discussed the legal underpinnings of the religious freedom lawsuits that have been filed against ObamaCare.
Kniffin: The primary legal argument that we’re advancing in these cases is under a 1993 law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. And under that law, once an organization shows that its religious exercise is substantially burdened by a law, then it is incumbent upon the government to show why the government’s law is advancing a compelling interest and why the government is doing so in a narrowly tailored way. This is what we lawyers call the strict scrutiny test.
And so it really … puts the focus on the government. It really has to justify what it’s doing. In this case, we’re seeing clearly, by all accounts, these are religious employers who say that they have a substantial problem with being forced to fund and to provide for their employees what they believe are abortion-causing drugs. They say, “We don’t want to make available to our employees drugs that we believe cause abortions.” So that’s straightforward enough.
The rest of the case, then, has to do with what the government is doing and how the government is going about it. So to leave aside the issue about whether providing access to a contraceptive is a compelling governmental interest, or, in this case, narrowly expanding interest, because access is already very broad, the more difficult part for the government is saying why it has to advance its argument this way. And so the government is already committed to close to $1 billion every year and to providing women with free or almost free family planning services through Title IX clinics and various grants, through Medicaid and the like.
And so, given this huge infrastructure, why is the government, in order to achieve this objective, riding herd on the backs of religious organizations who are having a problem with this? Surely there are easier ways that avoid these constitutional problems for the government to advance its interest. And so that’s, in short, the legal argument against the mandate.
If the Obama administration prevails on squashing religious freedom, which freedom will be crushed next?