Below is a statement from O. Carter Snead, Director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture and Professor of Law at Notre Dame Law School, regarding today's Supreme Court ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.
"Today’s Supreme Court opinion in Hobby Lobby is a strong and welcome affirmation that the faithful do not lose the protections of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act simply because they choose to exercise their religion through a closely held for-profit business.
"The decision is a clear rebuke to the federal government’s efforts to compel family business owners like the Greens to provide coverage for drugs and devices that (according to FDA’s own labeling) might function to cause the death of a human being at the embryonic stage of development. The Court also squarely rejected as woefully inadequate the government’s suggestion that the Greens could avoid violating their religious commitments by simply dropping all of their employees from the generous Hobby Lobby health plan. Finally, the Court confirmed that the government may not second-guess or substitute its own opinions for the sincere judgment of religious believers about what their faith requires.
"At the same time, the Court made it clear that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is not an automatic trump card for the faithful against all state action. The statute provides a careful balancing test that – consistent with our nation’s best traditions – requires accommodation of sincerely held religious beliefs except in those cases where the challenged law is the least restrictive means of accomplishing a compelling state interest. One could easily imagine a future challenge to a government program (e.g., vaccinations) or an insincere plaintiff that would not prevail under RFRA.
"By contrast, the HHS contraceptive mandate marks a clear and unlawful overreach by the government under RFRA. Even assuming (as the Court did) that the government’s asserted interest here is compelling, there are myriad less restrictive means of pursuing this goal without conscripting the Greens into paying for or otherwise facilitating access to drugs and devices that might cause the death of a living human embryo. Most obviously, the government could pay for these drugs and devices directly.
"Hopefully, in light of today’s ruling, the federal government will reverse its misguided strategy of coercing religious believers and their institutions – including the University of Notre Dame - into facilitating conduct that conflicts with their deeply and sincerely held religious convictions."
On Thursday, June 26th, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) handed down its decision in McCullen v. Coakley, unanimously striking down a Massachusetts law that created 35-foot "buffer zones" around abortion clinic entrances. The Court ruled that the law violated the First Amendment.
O. Carter Snead, Professor of Law at Notre Dame Law School and the William P. and Hazel B. White Director of the University of Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, said, "Today's Supreme Court decision in McCullen v. Coakley provides a narrow but important victory for the freedom (secured by the First Amendment) to convey peacefully the core message of the pro-life movement to women considering abortion, namely, 'We love you, we love your unborn child, and we're here to help.'"
According to Professor Snead, "The Court's opinion confirms that laws (such as those in Massachusetts) that impose draconian restraints on this type of interaction on public streets and sidewalks are unconstitutional and cannot stand. McCullen v. Coakley is a unanimous rebuke to state legislatures around the country who might be considering such misguided and unconstitutional laws."
Come hear Center Director Carter Snead's plenary address on the first day of the National Right to Life's Annual Convention this week at the historic Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky! The convention will take place from Thursday, June 26, through Saturday, June 28.
On June 26, at 12:45 p.m., Professor Snead will give a featured presentation entitled "The Lessons of Fetal Pain and the Duty to Protect Unborn Children." Read his related remarks before the Texas Legislature at its special session (convened to consider HB-2, following Wendy Davis's filibuster last summer), or watch his entire testimony here.
Facing an unexpected pregnancy can be one of the most difficult challenges that a person can encounter. In facing that challenge, a person, whether a woman or a man, may reach out to someone else with questions on what to do or where to go. The person to whom they reach out could be you.
On Saturday, April 5, 2014, Ellen Sommer, MS, will conduct a training session on how to positively support and respond to someone facing an unexpected pregnancy. Whether in the dorm room, over the phone, or in the coffee shop, the skills and techniques that you will learn during this session will equip you to effectively listen to, advise, and direct someone to helpful, life-affirming resources that will help and support that person as she or he faces this challenge.
The event will be on Saturday, April 5, 2014, from 10:30 am-1:30 pm in the LaFortune Notre Dame Room. Break and Lunch will be provided. The event is being sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Culture, Notre Dame Right to Life, Life Initiatives, and the Gender Relations Center. To RSVP to the event e-mail email@example.com, and specify dietary restrictions.
To find out more about the Women’s Care Center visit: http://www.womenscarecenter.org/
Congratulations to Fr. Bill Dailey, C.S.C., our Thomas More fellow, for winning the second annual Magister Vitae Award! The award by Notre Dame Right to Life is given to an outstanding faculty member at the University of Notre Dame whose teaching, scholarship, and life exemplify what it means to build a culture of life at Notre Dame and in the world. Fr. Dailey's humble witness and unwavering commitment to the pro-life cause have been a great source of support and inspiration to the Notre Dame community.
On Friday, March 21st in the McKenna Auditorium, John Haldane will deliver the Clarke Family Lecture in Medical Ethics as a part of the Center's Medical Ethics Conference. His lecture is entitled "Profession, Vocation, and Healthcare Ethics." John Haldane is a professor of philosophy at St. Andrews University and the 2013-2014 Mary Ann Remick Senior Visiting Fellow at the Center for Ethics and Culture.
Daniel Philpott, a professor of political science and peace studies at the University of Notre Dame, has been appointed the director of the Notre Dame Center for Civil and Human Rights, effective January 1. Professor Philpott, whose research focuses on religion and reconciliation in politics, is great friend of the Center and a member of our Advisory Board. Congratulations to Professor Philpott!
In today's L.A. Times, ND Law Prof. Richard Garnett discusses the merits of Hobby Lobby's lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services. The company is suing HHS over a rule in the Affordable Care which will require it to provide insurance coverage for contraception and some drugs that many believe can cause abortions.