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Secretary of Health And Human Services Kathleen Sebelius Appears In Front Of Congress. A Sad Sort of Hilarity Ensues.

On April 26, 2012, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius appeared before Congress to talk about the Obama administration’s proposed health mandate which forces religious institutions to purchase methods of contraception even if it is against the religious beliefs of a group. During the hearing, she Sebelius was questioned by Congressman Trey Gowdy, who represents the 4th District of South Carolina.

It now occurs to us that it may be good to have health care for people like Sebelius because a veritable bloodbath ensued during the questioning.

We took note in February of this year that President Obama, Secretary Sebelius and White House Spokesman Jay Carney all said the mandate was a correct “balance” between religious freedom and health care. During his questioning, Representative Gowdy asks Sebelius what tests or information she relied upon to determine what was a correct “balance.”

The Catholic News Agency highlights some of the exchange:

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.”

(It scares us to no end when an appointed official does not know the fundamentals of the 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.

It gets worse.

“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.”

In a prior appearance before Congress, Sebelius said:

“I cannot think of a single reason to not force all institutions to follow the health care mandates.”

Her appearance before Congress this past Thursday follows what most people agree was an ill-prepared and horrible performance by the Administration defending ObamaCare in front of the Supreme Court.

Taken together – the Supreme Court performance, and the two appearances in front of Congress – it is easy to see why the Administration has looked so bad: they did not look at, care about, or even examine the legality of the Constitutionality of the law.

The law is indefensible. Period.

The administration is banking on emotions and feelings rather than standing firm on any established Constitutional grounds.

Don’t let them. When you hear discussions or enter into discussions about ObamaCare, stand up and ask the question, “on what Constitutional grounds is this law or mandate based?”

Either the silence or the ignorance of those who support ObamaCare and the other mandates will be laid bare for all to see.



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