From the Hill: Antireligion Courts

It’s only the latest example of rampant antireligion in the courts. The California Supreme Court has ruled that Catholic Charities must include contraceptive coverage to women as part of any prescription drug benefit for employees, even though Church doctrine forbids contraception.

Indeed, activist courts are increasingly hostile to religion in any form, even a social-services agency like Catholic Charities that serves millions of people in desperate need of help—Catholic and atheist alike. It won’t stop at birth control.

The real goal of the liberal establishment is not merely government approval of the liberal social agenda, but legally enforced conformity to liberal values of tolerance by those who do not approve. Thus, activist courts, as the enforcers of the new liberal orthodoxy, will try to make the Catholic Church and its subsidiary organizations pay for abortions—even provide them in Catholic hospitals. They will demand that the Church provide benefits for same-sex partners. And they will attack the Church’s tax-exempt status if it does not comply, regardless of faith-based exemptions and conscience clauses. This persecution will apply to other Christian denominations, as well as orthodox Jews and Muslims.

In fact, activist judges are so hostile to religion in any form that they even strike at patriotic expressions that merely acknowledge our nation’s heritage, namely “one nation, under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a slap at our Founding Fathers, found the pledge unconstitutional for including “under God,” sending the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it is being heard at this writing.

One God-fearing group, the Boy Scouts, has been singled out for special pillorying after the organization invoked the ire of the liberal establishment for winning the U.S. Supreme Court case involving its First Amendment right not to admit an openly homosexual scoutmaster. The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a Connecticut decision to exclude the Scouts from a list of charities on its state-worker voluntary-donation plan. And most recently, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) went after the Scouts in a San Diego court and won a settlement in which the city agreed to revoke the Scouts’ lease for public campgrounds. The ACLU contends that leasing the Scouts public lands amounts to public establishment of religion, invoking Establishment Clause concerns.

As the fight against activist courts’ efforts to invalidate traditional marriage intensifies, the Catholic Church and individuals that defend marriage face more persecution at the hands of the liberal elite. Supreme Court justices paved the way in their Lawrence v. Texas decision for what is happening in Massachusetts, California, and other locales at the hands of state court judges and rogue officials.

In response, senators seeking to defend the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman are advancing a federal constitutional marriage amendment, which could see a vote this year. Senators know that the Constitution will be amended one way or another in the next several years— either by the Supreme Court or by the people through their elected representatives. And with such cases to enforce the new tolerance agenda brewing, liberal senators blocking President George W. Bush’s well-qualified judicial nominees continue to filibuster for good reason: to keep them off the bench so they don’t get in the way of federal court rulings for the liberal social agenda.

The president’s judicial nominees will now face an added antireligion litmus test to the abortion test—do they believe that marriage is solely between a man and a woman? Notably, President Bush had to recess-appoint Judge William Pryor to the Eleventh Circuit, who was grilled in the Judiciary Committee for his views on abortion and homosexuality. Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats blocked him because they were concerned about his “deeply held” personal beliefs on abortion. And Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) was particularly concerned that Pryor had rescheduled a family trip to Disney World with his young daughters to avoid Gay Day.

Wall Street Journal chief editorial writer William McGurn notes in his March 22 column (“Tolerance and Pryor Restraint”): “As Roe ought to have taught us, when the courts substitute their own social decisions for those properly exercised by the people through their elected representatives, the battlefield moves from the ballot box to the Judiciary Committee. Absent some sharp legislative corrective, the likeliest outcome of the ‘tolerance’ demanded by Lawrence and its progeny will be the tarring of judicial nominees as extremist for holding views shared by two-thirds of the American people.”

The liberal elites are set on imposing their values on us through the courts, and their friends on the bench are more than willing to oblige. If we Catholics retreat into our communities and don’t fight back in the public square, they will succeed.

  • Sen. Rick Santorum

    Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania was a candidate for the Republican nomination for President in 2012. He is currently working in Dallas as head of the Christian movie company, EchoLight Studios.

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