Republicans Ignore Religious Liberty

What Do These Women Want, Anyway?

House Republicans looked pretty bad today when their morning panel about the Affordable Care Act’s contraception regulations failed to include a single woman.  But then Republicans argued that it really had nothing whatsoever to do with contraception.  Representative and Deadbeat Dad Joe Walsh of Illinois, who speaks for most of the House Republican Conference, insisted, “This is not about women. This is not about contraceptives. This is about religious freedom.”

Well, if that’s true, they certainly had a funny way of focusing on it.  If the title of your hearing is, “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State.  Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?”, wouldn’t it be useful to have, you know, legal scholars and experts on the First Amendment testifying?  If you ask a question, then wouldn’t it be a good idea to listen to someone who has some ability to answer it?

Oh yes, there was one lawyer there — Catholic University President John Garvey, who is a respected constitutional scholar.  But if you at look at his testimony, it is clear that Garvey said nothing about the Constitution.  Instead, he spent his time discussing — the Obama Administration’s contraceptive regulation.

But really, this isn’t about contraception.  Nope.  Not at all.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

11 thoughts on “Republicans Ignore Religious Liberty”

  1. This is not about women. This is not about contraceptives. This is about religious freedom.

    Truer words have rarely been spoken.
    This really is about the males of a male-dominated religion to exercise their religious freedom.
    Woman are chattel, a mere afterthought, born of a rib of man.

    Chattel have no right to prevent the male’s semen from reaching its goal.
    Chattel have no right to abort the male’s children after the semen has reached its goal.

    Heinlein once wrote that the purpose of the universe is for gametes to produce zygotes.
    He may be correct but he missed the implications: Semen wants to lord it over the oocyte.

    You can dress up the disagreement in flowery Senatorial talk…
    Learned Constitutional talk…
    In noble religious talk…
    Or blustering libertarian talk of freedom…

    But it all comes down to this:
    This is just another cultural power play by male pricks to stay on top.

    1. “Woman are chattel, a mere afterthought, born of a rib of man.”

      Apparently you’ve bought into that male fable about creation. The truth is very different.

      After three weeks in the Garden of Eden, God came to visit Eve. “So, how is everything going?” inquired God.

      “It is all so beautiful, God,” she replied. “The sunrises and sunsets are breathtaking, the smells, the sights, everything is wonderful, but I have just one problem. It’s these breasts you have given me. The middle one pushes the other two out and I am constantly knocking them with my arms, catching them on branches and snagging them on bushes. They’re a real pain.”

      And Eve went on to tell God that since many other parts of her body came in pairs, such as her limbs, eyes, ears, etc. She felt that having only two breasts might leave her body more ‘symmetrically balanced.’

      “That’s a fair point,” replied God, “but it was my first shot at this, you know. I gave the animals six breasts, so I figured that you needed only half of those, but I see that you are right. I will fix it up right away.”

      And God reached down, removed the middle breast and tossed it into the bushes.

      Three weeks passed and God once again visited Eve in the Garden of Eden.

      “Well, Eve, how is my favorite creation?”

      “Just fantastic,” she replied, “but for one oversight. You see, all the animals are paired off. The ewe has a ram and the cow has her bull. All the animals have a mate except me. I feel so alone.”

      God thought for a moment and said, “You know, Eve, you are right. How could I have overlooked this? You do need a mate and I will immediately create a man from a part of you. Let’s see…where did I put that useless boob?”

      Now doesn’t THAT make more sense than the rib story?

  2. Were there any questions about why state regulations to exactly the same effect don’t impinge on religious freedom, but federal ones do?

    1. Well, according to Clarence Thomas, the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses don’t apply to the states, which are free to establish theocracies or ban the Ten Commandments, as they please. Does this answer your question?

  3. As the 1st amendment was ratified by states having established churches, that’s a perspective with more historical basis than you seem to be aware, though arguably ratification of the 14th amendment at a time when there were no established churches altered the situation somewhat.

    1. I’m perfectly aware of the history. Of course the First Amendment didn’t apply to the states in 1791, irrespective of the existence of established state churches. The 14th Amendment more than “altered the situation somewhat”, it radically reconstituted the relationship between the federal government (and its constitution) and the states. The views on the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses expressed by Clarence Thomas put him in a minority of exactly one on the current Court, and a minority of approximately one more generally.

  4. Important issue that is missing from media coverage

    Not one person from a religious organization that supports the contraceptive mandate was a witnesses at the hearing.

    The House Hearing was 100% Republican politics considering the individuals invited and the fact that President Obama exempted ALL religious organizations on 2-10-2012.

    Republicans did not invite any of the religious organizations that have applauded Obama’s exemption and applauded the mandate for contraception.

    Many of the non-Catholic churches/organizations that have railed against the false religious liberties claim are doing it because they are anti-Obama. Some of the have been very active in anti-Obama actions since 2007.

    Why didn’t they invite any of the following:

    Includes Catholic Organizations c=frLJK2PKLqF&b=4909851&ct=11627315

    In contrast, 24 religious leaders, representing Protestant,Reform and Conservative Jewish, andMuslim faiths, issueda joint statementfrom the Religious Institute on Feb. 8 stating, “We respect individuals’moral agency to make decisions abouttheirsexualityand reproductive health without governmental interference orlegal restriction.” Andthe public policy office of the United Methodist Church, which also runs hospitals anduniversities, applaudedthe mandate to cover contraception.

    Another statement agreeing with Obama’s mandate was signed by:

    Catholics for Choice; the Central Conference of American Rabbis; Concerned Clergy for Choice; Disciples Justice Action Network; Episcopal Divinity School; Episcopal Women’s Caucus; Hadassah; the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation; Jewish Women International; Methodist Federation for Social Action; Muslims for Progressive Values; the National Council of Jewish Women; Planned Parenthood Clergy Advisory Board; the Rabbinical Assembly; the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice; the Religious Institute; Society for Humanistic Judaism; The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism; Union Theological Seminary; Unitarian Universalist Association; United Church of Christ; and Women’s League for Conservative Judaism ” The unity of the religious leaders contrasted with the partisan divide among lawmakers”

    1. I must say initially I was convinced Obama didn’t play this correctly. I was wrong. Our household has had ‘popcorn’ on every grocery shopping list for weeks.

      And Linda makes an excellent point: I was convinced they could get their message discipline back on this issue. They cannot. I cannot wait to see what else is thrown out there for them to tear themselves apart over. Positively better than Rovian tactics.

      1. And it was heartening to see the WH actually get the message out about something good they have done.
        And the Republicans have worked so hard to get the message out. All the while showing their true sad faces. They know it’s blowing up in their faces but they can’t seem to stop themselves.

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