March 29, 2018
When most people think of government fines, they probably think about something small like a traffic ticket. For the Catholic Benefits Association (CBA), the Obama contraception mandate gave new meaning to government penalties. A whopping $6.9 billion worth.
Obviously, the price for exercising your faith got pretty expensive under the last administration. The attack on religious Americans was so over-the-top that even the courts were appalled. And no one is more relieved than CBA. Since 2014, they'd been racking up $100 per person, per day for refusing to surrender to the federal mandate that ordered them to pay for pills and procedures they morally opposed. Like dozens of other organizations who sued their way back to their constitutional rights, CBA is celebrating a permanent injunction from U.S. District Court Judge David Russell. And while he could have just delivered the First Amendment victory for the association, he took the extra step of blasting the mandate as illegal.
"This is a tremendous win," said the group's CEO, Douglas Wilson. "The first freedom in the Bill of Rights is the First Amendment right to freedom of religion. The court has rightly ruled that employers should not be forced to violate their beliefs and cover morally problematic elective... [choices]..." And, since the association represents dozens of dioceses, archdioceses, religious orders, hospitals, colleges and universities, and other ministries, it's a victory for them too.
The decision, Russell ruled, is permanent. That means, Catholic League President Bill Donohue said, that "Catholic employers who belong to the CBA [of which there are more than 1,000] are now free from attempts by the federal government to coerce them into providing morally offensive health care coverage. This is a smashing victory for religious liberty and a stunning defeat for the pro-abortion industry and its allies."
Of course, this is a predicament no American group should have ever faced. Six billion dollars in fines for exercising the freedom that brought our founders to this country? CBA isn't the only organization that understands the real intent of that fine, either. Government penalties like that are usually for correcting abhorrent behavior, which apparently, some liberals define as thinking biblically.
The real motivation behind the HHS mandate wasn't to expand insurance coverage, it was to eradicate any entity that isn't in line with the Left. The totalitarians in the last administration had no desire to have a conversation or arrive at a consensus. Their goal was eliminating anyone who doesn't march to the beat of their radical drum. Thank goodness that Obama's mandates were so far outside the constitutional boundaries that even the courts couldn't ignore it!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.