Though regular readers here, on New Advent, and at Stand With the US Bishops Against HHS learned all about the recent decision regarding the HHS Mandate in suits filed by the Archdiocese of New York, Cardinal Dolan notes that no one outside of the Catholic bubble noticed it. I reckon the Sunday news shows are busy discussing Fiscal Cliffs and trouble with Health Exchanges to bother reporting on a rebuff to the Administration.
No news is better than bad news? Perhaps for the Administration and its apologists. His Eminence explains,
Did you hear about the decision last week by U.S. District Court Judge Brian M. Cogan in the lawsuit brought by the Archdiocese of New York, ArchCare, (the agency coordinating our Catholic healthcare in the archdiocese) and three plaintiffs from the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island, against the administration for the unconstitutional HHS mandate?
You probably did not, as there seems to have been virtually no mention of the decision – in favor of the archdiocese, by the way – in any local newspaper or on television. As far as I can tell, and I’ve looked rather carefully, there hasn’t even been a story in the New York Times, which couldn’t wait to publish an editorial this past October, admonishing the bishops, when a federal judge in Missouri found for the administration and dismissed a similar case brought by a private, for-profit, mining company. (The Times also didn’t have much to say last week, when the appeals court temporarily blocked the bad Missouri decision the Times had gushed over.)
Judge Cogan’s decision last week turned back a motion by the administration to have our lawsuit dismissed. You’ll remember, perhaps, that back in May, the Archdiocese of New York, ArchCare, the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Catholic Charities of Rockville Centre, and Catholic Health Systems of Long Island filed a lawsuit in federal court in Brooklyn, one of more than two dozen similar lawsuits filed around the country that day. These lawsuits argue that the mandate from Health and Human Services would unconstitutionally presume to define the nature of the Church’s ministry, and force religious employers to violate their conscience or face onerous fines for not providing services in our health insurance that are contrary to our consciences and faith.
The judge’s decision doesn’t settle the case, but allows the case to proceed so that it might be heard in court. (Two of our original co-plaintiffs, the Diocese of Rockville Centre and Catholic Charities of Rockville Centre, have been dismissed from the suit, as the judge found that their insurance plans would not presently be affected by the HHS mandate. The Archdiocese of New York, ArchCare, and CHSLI remain as plaintiffs.) That’s significant, because the administration has been successful in getting some of the other cases dismissed, but in his decision Judge Cogan found that there was very real possibility that we plaintiffs would “face future injuries stemming from their forced choice between incurring fines or acting in violation of their religious beliefs.”
And what of the administration’s contention that the suit should be dismissed because they were going to change the HHS mandate to address the concerns of religious employers? As Judge Cogan wrote, “…the First Amendment does not require citizens to accept assurances from the government that, if the government later determines it has made a misstep, it will take ameliorative action. There is no, ‘Trust us, changes are coming’ clause in the Constitution.”
Bravo, Judge Cogan!
I think Cardinal Dolan will get the attention of the press here pretty soon. But it will be up to us to make sure they pay attention to him, and to us.
President Truman, reflecting on the tenacity of the Marine Corps when his Defense Act of 1948 threatened the extinction of that storied institution said,
“The Marine Corps is the Navy’s police force, and as long as I am President that is what it will remain. They have a propaganda machine that is almost equal to Stalin’s.“
His plan for defense cutbacks, see, had been foolhardy enough to have, “proposed disbanding the Marine Corps entirely as part of the 1948 defense reorganization plan, a plan that was abandoned only after a letter-writing campaign and the intervention of influential congressmen who were Marine veterans.”
President Truman ate some serious crow after comparing the Marine Corps to Stalin. And as it turned out, Americans loved their Marine Corps enough to demand that she keep it around for a while.
I tend to think that Americans on the whole have gotten used to their rights enshrined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Catholics, other Christians, and followers of every other religion like the freedom to practice their faiths unimpeded, as they always have. Caesar has no power to demand we kneel to it, nor does Caesar have the right to fine us to death either.
Perhaps it’s time for us constituents to call our representatives on the carpet to make sure they know where we stand on this matter. Because if we wait on the press to do it, nothing will get done.
Cardinal Dolan knows, and I would have to think he would prompt us to follow this sage advice as well,
Let us pray, and Lord, hear our prayers.