The Supreme Court is hearing argument about the Zubik v. Burwell case, which affects, among other plaintiffs, the Little Sisters of the Poor.
The case seeks relief for the plaintiffs from the Health and Human Services mandate that under Obamacare their insurance policies invoke some mechanism guaranteeing the distribution of contraceptives. (The Obama administration argues that groups like the Little Sisters aren’t being asked, themselves, to fund contraceptives, if their policies trigger a mandate for the insurer to fund contraceptives. For more information, go here and here.)
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s query, in response to hearing oral arguments presented this past Wednesday, comes across a bit plaintive. During oral arguments, she asked an attorney representing East Texas Baptist University, Southern Nazarene University, Geneva College and the Little Sisters of the Poor
“whether the United States government would ever be able to function if it could not demand that people do things that those people believe will cause their souls to ‘be damned in some way.’
“Because every believer that’s ever come before us, including the people in the military, are saying that my soul will be damned in some way. I’m not naysaying that that is a very substantial perceived personal burden by them. But if that’s always going to be substantial, how will we ever have a government that functions? How will we ever have anything that the government can demand people do in objecting…that won’t be a problem?”
CNS News recounts the points made by the plaintiffs’ lawyers and the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
But the real answer to her question is much simpler than that.
How have we had a functioning government for all the decades upon decades of our national life, while refraining from encroaching on people’s consciences and fear of their souls being damned?
J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who writes for The Optimistic Conservative and Liberty Unyielding. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.