Good Day for Freedom

This week’s Supreme Court decision allowing people of conscience to opt out of paying for abortifacients as required by the Affordable Health Care Act was a victory for America. It assures us all that the religious liberty protected by the U.S. Constitution will be recognized and enforced.

Coming on the eve of the Fourth of July, that truly unique American holiday that celebrates the independence of the U.S. and the freedoms that were secured by the American Revolutionary War, the assurance brought by the ruling becomes all the more relevant.

The plaintiffs in the case – Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood – were courageous in their fight through the judicial appeals process and have secured a great victory for all people of faith.

Much credit should be afforded the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which litigated the case as part of its mission to be a powerful voice in defense of religious liberty.

At the same time, we note that the Court said this is a narrow ruling. It specifically said that cases challenging the mandate for nonprofit entities, such as Catholic colleges and faith-based employers, are pending and that the June 30 ruling doesn’t consider them. Hopefully, the ruling will set a precedent for the many more cases in the pipeline that seek the religious freedom promised by the Constitution.

Still, we can applaud the Court’s decision that recognizes that the religious faith of individuals is not limited to the time he or she spends within church walls but that it has ramifications in the public square.

The one ominous consideration is that this was decided by only one vote, 5-4, and the dissent penned by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was discouraging in its line of reasoning and rhetoric. We would have hoped that the justices could have agreed that all people of conscience are protected under the law.

Pro-Life Voice Prevails

Another court ruling last week is also reason for giving thanks. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed by unanimous vote, 9-0, that a buffer zone established around abortion clinics in Massachusetts – to discourage pro-life counselors – is unconstitutional.

This is a breath of fresh air. The Court rightfully noted that such areas are a violation of free speech. People who cherish the lives of the unborn are not a threat to potential clients of the abortion mills. They simply are there to offer advice and counsel to those who are open to it.

In our diocese, this decision brings encouragement to the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants who have been constantly targeted because they dare to freely express their views at the sites of abortion and offer pro-life literature to anyone who would read it.

The City of New York has been trying to quiet the voices of pro-lifers with laws that stifle free speech, and they have lost every time. This Supreme Court ruling should end that debate.

Instead of spending the peoples’ money on costly litigations and harassing citizens who want to pray, the city should instead concentrate on protecting everyone’s rights, including those who want to save the lives of the innocent unborn.

Msgr. Philip Reilly and his courageous band of pro-life advocates have been hassled enough. The Court has ruled – even though this case did not involve them directly – that they are in the right.

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