Editorial of The New York Sun | April 28, 2012
What a remarkable glimpse of the gulf between the administration and Congress over religious freedom is flashing around the internet. It is a Youtube video of the secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sibelius, at a hearing of the House Education and Workforce Committee hearing. She is being grilled by a Republican congressman of South Carolina, Trey Gowdy. He asks her about her a statement she has made about seeking a balance between believer’s rights and the contraception mandate. What becomes clear is that there is no feel for, no thought about, but glancing attention to the Constitution the secretary is sworn to support.
An account of hearing was issued by the Catholic News Agency. It’s almost painful to read. The secretary admits 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,” Mrs. Sebelius told Mr. Gowdy. She also admits she is unaware of Supreme Court cases stretching back decades in which, as the Catholic News Agency put it, “religious believers’ rights against government intrusion were upheld by the court.”
One thing on which Mrs. Sebelius and Mr. Gowdy agreed was that government could not, in the congressman’s words, “decide which religious beliefs are acceptable and not acceptable.” The congressman then had this exchange with the secretary, as reported by CNA: