Where was the Catholic Church when the Obamacare mandate was being debated?
It’s heartening to see Cardinal Timothy Dolan speak candidly about President Obama’s apparent betrayal. In November 2011, Obama had a face-to-face White House meeting with Dolan and promised that the Church’s charitable activities wouldn’t be subject to the Obamacare mandate. Just two months later, in January 2012, Obama called him to say that the Church must obey the law like everyone else, and employees of Catholic charities would have to be provided with health care packages that included contraception and abortion services. Obama subsequently suggested that an insurance company could handle the matter, though the Catholic Church would still have to pay for contraception and abortion services through its insurance premiums.
The experience must have reminded many people of the occasions when President Richard Nixon’s Watergate lies were exposed, and White House press secretary Ron Ziegler famously remarked that Nixon’s past statements were “inoperative.”
Maybe Catholic protests will remind Supreme Court justices that infringements on economic liberty tend to undermine other liberties. Freedom of religion is impossible unless churches are private property – sanctuaries where people may gather peacefully without interference and without being forced to violate their core teachings. Freedom of speech is impossible unless there are privately-owned homes, halls and other places where people may speak without fear of reprisal. Freedom of the press is impossible unless presses, paper, ink, telecommunications and so on are privately-owned, and people may publish their findings and their views. Freedom of contract vanishes when it’s forced. Arbitrary government power always implies a threat that the economic means of exercising such freedoms could be denied whenever it might serve a ruler’s self-interest.
Discussions at the Supreme Court made clear that Obamacare doesn’t have a limiting principle. Justices repeatedly asked about that, but the attorney representing the Justice Department couldn’t provide a credible answer. There’s nothing in the approximately 2,700 pages of the Obamacare law to indicate that Congress intends only to force people to buy health insurance and not anything else. So, the mandate, if upheld, would set a precedent for a potentially unlimited expansion of federal power over people’s lives.
While the Catholic Church could be a formidable foe of the Obamacare mandate, one might wonder where the Church has been during the last three years when the mandate was being debated.
Why didn’t Church officials take a principled position against the mandate that infringed on economic liberty and therefore could threaten religious liberty? [More]