But ignored key precedents

The following is a Catholic News Agency story which appeared on April 27.

HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius says she was unaware of legal precedents confirming religious freedom, even as she sought a “balance” between believers’ rights and the contraception mandate.

“I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t pretend to understand the nuances of the constitutional balancing tests,” Sebelius told Representative Trey Gowdy (R–SC) during an April 26 hearing. 

In her responses to subsequent questions, the secretary admitted she was unaware of Supreme Court cases stretching back several decades, in which religious believers’ rights against government intrusion were upheld by the court…..

“I am not going to wade into constitutional law,” Sebelius responded. “We are implementing the (health care reform) law that was passed by the Congress, signed by the president, which directed our department to develop a package of preventive health services for women.”

Sebelius said she agreed with the statement that government could not “force certain religious beliefs on its citizens.” When asked why this could not happen, she cited “the separation of church and state,” a phrase not found in the U.S. Constitution.

“It’s the Constitution,” Gowdy replied, citing the First Amendment which guarantees the “free exercise of religion.”

Sebelius also agreed with Gowdy’s statement that government could not “decide which religious beliefs are acceptable and not acceptable.” This, she acknowledged, is “part of our Constitution.”

“So, before this rule was promulgated,” Gowdy continued, referring to the federal contraception mandate, “did you read any of the Supreme Court cases on religious liberty?”

“I did not,” Sebelius responded.

The representative proceeded to ask the Health and Human Services secretary whether she was familiar with the outcomes of several cases pitting state interests against religious believers’ claims under the First Amendment.

Sebelius agreed with Gowdy that the state had a “compelling interest in having an educated citizenry.”

“So when a state said, ‘You have to send your children to school until a certain age,’ and a religious group objected because they did not want to send their children to school until that certain age, do you know who won?” he asked. “It went to the Supreme Court.”

The 1970s case, Wisconsin v. Yoder, is considered a landmark in U.S. jurisprudence. Sebelius said she did not know its outcome. “The religious group won,” Gowdy informed her.

“I think the state has a compelling interest in banning animal sacrifice,” he continued. “When a state banned the practice of animal sacrifice and a religious group objected, it went to the Supreme Court. Do you know who won that?”

“I do not, sir,” Sebelius responded. She was again informed that the religious group prevailed, in the 1993 case of Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. Hialeah.

“When a religious group objected to having a certain license tag on their cars, it went to the Supreme Court,” Gowdy said, in an apparent reference to the 1976 case of Wooley v. Maynard. “Do you know who won?”

Sebelius said she was unaware of this outcome as well. “The religious group won,” Gowdy told her.

The congressman also noted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s recent 9-0 loss in the Supreme Court. The commission accused a Lutheran church and school of retaliatory firing, but lost the case when all nine justices upheld the school’s right to choose employees on religious grounds.

“So when you say you ‘balanced’ things,” Gowdy said, “can you see why I might be seeking a constitutional balancing, instead of any other kind?”

“I do,” Sebelius said, “and I defer to our lawyers to give me good advice on the Constitution. I do not pretend to be a constitutional lawyer.”

“Is there a legal memo that you relied on?” Gowdy asked. “At least when Attorney General Holder made his recess appointments, there was a legal memo that he relied on. Is there one that you can share with us?”

“Attorney General Holder clearly runs the Justice Department and lives in a world of legal memos,” Sebelius responded, saying she “relied on discussions.”

South Carolina is involved in two pending lawsuits bearing on the Obama
administration’s health care reform law and the accompanying contraception mandate.

The first, against the Affordable Care Act as a whole, was heard by the Supreme Court in March. Its outcome is likely to determine the progress of a second lawsuit, brought by seven states and a number of Catholic ministries and individuals, specifically challenging the contraception mandate.

To read entire story, Click here.



Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2012 12:13 AM By JLS
Sebellius’ looks almost as demonic as Hillary. They should have a beady eye contest.

Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2012 1:01 AM By Kenneth M. Fisher
From what I have read, it is absolutely clear that Sebellius has no business as a U.S. Government Department Head, no matter what that Department is. She is not even qualified to head a Department of Latrine Cleaners if that Department existed! O’my gosh, I don’t want to give the Obamanation any ideas! God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher

Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2012 4:38 AM By Catherine
What do promoters of baby killing say when they are asked why they are also persecuting Christ’s Church? They arrogantly say, “I’m not a lawyer and I don’t pretend to understand the nuances of the constitutional balancing tests.” Kathleen Sebelius’s soul is in great peril. WHERE are Kathleen’s Catholic shepherds? Why have they not helped to gather her back into the fold with the strong and loving discipline of a father? She is running amok promoting evil actions while still pretending she is a practicing Catholic. The Good Shepherd leaves the 99 sheep to search out the one lost sheep. The Good Shepherd rejoices more over the return of the one lost sheep who has gone astray over the 99 sheep that have not gone astray. So far, Kathleen is definitely choosing to ride on the bullet train to hell. Yes, Kathleen Sebelius does have a free will to choose hell but her good Catholic shepherds are not supposed to help her by making that trip comfortable.

Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2012 5:51 AM By k
Thanks for this story.

Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2012 6:22 AM By St. Christopher
This is not that amazing of a story. Some who have served in the Federal Government has seen — first hand — direction from the WH to take a Federal program far beyond its original intention; “the President wants this or that” is the normal refrain. While Sibelius might well be accused of misleading the public when she professes to be a practicing Catholic — like Pelosi — then does something directly contrary to Church teachings, her lack of knowledge of the Constitution and reliance on Agency attorneys (themselves largely ignorant of much law, except for their narrow legal specialty) is routine and normal. That being said, the political drivers of the Obama health care program likely do know the legal controversies and are content to advance their agenda, leaving it up to third parties to contest the programs in court. This provides political cover to Obama, who can say that he was only trying to do the “right thing”. Makes folks like Prof. Kmiec and other Catholic supporters of Obama (including most of the USCCB staff and many, many bishops), the “useful idiots” of a rising dictator.

Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2012 7:05 AM By Marie
Another “Catholic” lost along the way. I wouldn’t be surprised if having apostate Catholics on his team to hell is a goal that Obama has worked for. Even right now their numbers are “legion”.

Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2012 7:29 AM By Jo Ann
I am so happy that Ms. Sebelius was put in her place. Just as most of the Obama administration who thought they could do whatever they want. They don’t listen to what the people want. Everybody needs to continue to pray for these people who have no regard for anybody who has religious convictions. May God convert their hearts of stone into hearts of love and compassion. May they stop trying to bring such evil down on us. Please Saint Michael protect us in this battle of evil. With God, please defend us. Amen

Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2012 7:50 AM By Elizabeth
Besides not knowing the Constitution of the United States…..this woman knows nothing about her Religion! How VERY SAD!! She and Mr. Obama , I pray, will be looking for new employment come November!

Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2012 8:20 AM By Bud 
Sibelius is just as much of a deceiver as the one that appointed her in spite of her total lack of qualifications. The only reason for the “tiresome” ex-catholic label used is that these people were baptized and nothing more. I doubt that she ever has been anything but a minimalist Catholic who as a child was sent off to Religion classes once a month or so she may get confirmed and then, that’s it!!!! Enter her in the books as a practicing Catholic! I have a relative who aborted a boy when her live in hedged on marrying her. She finally married him (2nd marriage), had a daughter. The priest very wisely, would not baptize her unless she raised the child as a Catholic. So, the baptism was performed in a Protestant church where anything goes. Now daughter is on birth control at 16 or her mother says she will have any pregnancy aborted. Mother hates church now of course inspite of 12 years in a parochial school. This failure came from within the home of the parents not the church.

Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2012 8:41 AM By Jo Ann
Elizabeth, I believe they will stay with there current empolyer. Satin. He likes lifers.

Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2012 8:58 AM By JMJ
If God continues to punish us this Nov.; Mrs. Sebelius won’t have to face those nasty Congressmen about her ‘knowing’ the Constitution or any of the rulings from the Supreme Court, as OBAMANISM will replace our flag, our country, our freedom and our Constitution. Don’t be surprised to see the monument of Lincoln being torn down and be replaced by a huge idol of the new god. Psalm 108:8 (109:8 Catholic Bibles): MAY HIS DAYS BE FEW; MAY ANOTHER TAKE HIS OFFICE”. Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, take over, Amen. +JMJ+

Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2012 9:52 AM By Fr. J
She is excommunicate for a reason.

Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2012 10:04 AM By Anne T.
You can include Sebelius in that nation of ruthless women too. What was it that Jesus Christ said, Oh! yes, “The meek shall inherit the earth”, not the ruthless.

Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2012 10:21 AM By MAC
The heads of ALL Government Agencies have free access to Government Lawyers if they so wish. Consultation on the implementation of laws is free to them. Sebelius, Holder, and Obama are not honest, and think they can do whatever they can get away with – they have contempt for the US Constitution. It’s time for impeachment.

Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2012 10:59 AM By Fred
St. Christopher said: “This provides political cover to Obama, who can say that he was only trying to do the “right thing”. Makes folks like Prof. Kmiec and other Catholic supporters of Obama (including most of the USCCB staff and many, many bishops), the “useful idiots” of a rising dictator.” I could not agree more.

Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2012 6:02 PM By Innominato
JlS, I rarely submit a comment because Cal Cath will not print . My comments are too tough for them and you intellectual bloggers. I do agree with your comment about demonic Sibelius and Hilary Clinton’s devilish eyes. You forgot to add Nancy Pelosi. There is something evil about her face. She attends Sunday Mass at our parish in San Francisco. She sits on the right hand side and avoids receiving Communion from any priest celebrating the Mass. She receives Communion from the lay minister to avoid a confrontation.

Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2012 6:47 PM By mary ellen
Catherine, you make an excellent point. She is desperately in need of spiritual counsel by her bishop and as a lost sheep worthy of great effort to save her from ‘going over a cliff” Maybe Catholics should be charitably lobbying him on her behalf. As for her lack of knowledge of constitutional law (in particular, the “balancing” of freedoms), one doesn’t have to be a lawyer to know that religious freedoms are a basic right. Hasn’t she ever hear of “conscientious objectors”?

Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2012 9:47 PM By Cody in Tucson
JLS – Come on now, Sebelius and Hillary both looking demonic? Come on! Ok, I’ll agree with you if Sebelius is at one end of the demon and Hillary is at the other. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which one is at the end where the “sun don’t shine”.

Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2012 10:47 PM By JLS
Hillary has the snake eyes; did you see her on TV at the moment she embrassed Tipper Gore, upon news that Bush One conceded? Pretty much spells out her sexual preference. And then there is ‘Ol RoboFace Pelosi … guess she’d be at the other end, Cody.

Posted Wednesday, May 02, 2012 5:38 AM By Ted
Sebelius is an apostate. Like USD, she needs to remove any reference to the word Catholic from any self description.

Posted Wednesday, May 02, 2012 10:03 AM By scub
You are watching the ‘demonic’ in action.

Posted Wednesday, May 02, 2012 2:19 PM By Dana
There’s a good video of Sibelius being grilled by a pro-life candidate on youtube. You can watch it on lifesite news.