It’s Easter … and the Fight for Religious Freedom Continues

I focused on Holy Week issues last week.

I would love to continue doing the same thing this first week of Easter. In fact, it might be nice to never do anything else. But the world and our duty to engage the world for Christ goes on.

Challenges to the HHS Mandate continue to wend their way through the judicial process. 

Hobby Lobby was granted a hearing of its appeal against the HHS Mandate before a full federal panel of nine judges. Most appeals are heard by three judges. The fact that the whole panel will hear this one reflects the seriousness of the issue involved. I can think of few issues more serious than whether or not the First Amendment applies to applies to everyone.

We need to continue to support both EWTN and Hobby Lobby, as well as all others who have stepped up to fight for our freedoms.  I got paid today. I’ll be too busy to do any shopping for a few days, but the first chance I get, I’m heading to Hobby Lobby. I may top it off with lunch at Chick Fil-A. I hope you do the same.

From CNA:

.- Christian-owned craft giant Hobby Lobby will be able to make its appeal against the federal contraception mandate before a full federal panel of nine judges, rather than the usual three.

“Full court review is reserved only for the most serious legal questions,” explained Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in a press release on March 29. The Becket Fund is representing the owners of Hobby Lobby in court.

Duncan said that the decision to grant a full nine-judge hearing speaks to the gravity of the issue.

“This case asks whether the First Amendment protects everyone’s right to religious freedom, or whether it leaves out religious business owners like the Greens,” he explained.

As its religious freedom case comes before a federal court, Hobby Lobby had petitioned for an “en banc” hearing, or an appeals hearing before the full bench of nine judges.

“We are grateful that the court granted Hobby Lobby’s petition,” said Duncan. (Read more here.)

Meanwhile, EWTN’s lawsuit against the HHS Mandate was dismissed by an Alabama court because the court said the case “wasn’t ripe.” I would make a comment about the choice of the word “ripe,” but it’s too easy. EWTN has vowed to fight on.

If you’re getting the idea that going to court is a roll of the dice, you’re right. It all depends on which judge you draw and if their lunch agreed with them.

From CNA:

.- The EWTN Global Catholic Network is “extremely disappointed” by a Monday court ruling that dismissed as “unripe” its lawsuit against a federal mandate that could require the organization to violate Catholic teaching.

“Contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs are not healthcare. EWTN cannot and will not compromise our strongly held beliefs on these moral issues,” EWTN President and CEO Michael P. Warsaw said March 25.

On Monday Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn of the U.S. District Court in Birmingham dismissed the Irondale, Ala.-based organization’s lawsuit until new regulations are “created and finalized.” The March 25 court decision agreed that EWTN has standing to sue, but it sided with Obama administration lawyers who contended that the case is not ripe for review. (Read more here.) 


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  • Mike

    We hosted Easter this year and on Sunday had everyone over for dinner. One family member, a president of a Catholic college and the chairperson of a Catholic hospital, at one point, after discussing the new pope and someone mentioning EWTN in passing, snarled saying it stood for an evil woman talking nonsense. The family member is a Catholic nun. But you know what? I actually wasn’t surprised. She went on to say the Ordinariate is for right-wing nuts and that Catholics have until quite recently ordained women. She also said the Benedictine nuns somewhere in Kansas are stupid for wearing those antiquated habits.

    She used the most astonishingly cruel and un-Christ like language you can imagine. But I wasn’t surprised or even moved by it. Why am I mentioning this? Because the RCC has as many problems within its ranks as it does anywhere else.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Sad story Mike.

      • Mike

        Yes, it was. But like I said it was also somehow liberating in that she had finally dropped the charade and we all knew where we stood. BTW I wouldn’t dare “out” her but I swear I am not making this up. She has been very coy whenever the media would call her for comment on some controversy of the day but last sunday she finally let us have it. I first noticed it when I started bringing up Peter Kreeft of GKC and she would make a face and try to tell me about Kung or Carroll. Again, not making it up. So, yeah it was and it wasn’t revealing but what really got me and my wife was the way she spoke and the words she chose and quite honestly the nastiness of it. It seemed personal to her and it turned us off. I don’t know a part of me felt sorry for her.

  • abb3w

    Standing and ripeness are one of the aspects of the courts that tend to really annoy non-lawyers. However, they’re a fundamental part of judicial conservatism, to maximize the judiciary’s separation from the political process by not interfering until a controversy is “actual” rather than merely hypothetical or potential.

    There have been cases where ripeness inconvenienced atheists and other non-Christians as well. Herb Silverman’s first lawsuit over the clauses in the South Carolina constitution barring atheists from holding office was summarily dismissed, on the grounds his campaign to be elected South Carolina governor was unlikely to succeed. (He later found a ripe controversy by applying to be a Notary Public, and the state supreme court then addressed the merits.) A quick search also turns up a case where a Native American Church’s lawsuit over concerns about growing marijuana for religious use was dismissed, as no-one had threatened them with enforcement action over it.

    The ripeness principle thus seems to be a mixed blessing for all sides, as it were.