The Diocese of Pittsburgh on Monday joined more than 40 Catholic groups across the country in suing the Obama administration for requiring them to offer birth control services to employees as part of a federal health care mandate.And here's the frame from today's op-ed page:
Can the federal government compel a religious group to pay for a service, directly or indirectly, in contravention of that group's principles?It's a rhetorical question - they're hoping you don't bother to check and just simply agree with their next sentence:
Of course not.But what if the frame was this?
Can an individual's religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate?Of course not.
But let's go back to the braintrust's frame. In the same Scalia-penned decision, there's this passage regarding the non-payment of taxes due to religious concerns. The idea was rejected by the way:
Our most recent decision involving a neutral, generally applicable regulatory law that compelled activity forbidden by an individual's religion was United States v. Lee, 455 U.S., at 258 -261. There, an Amish employer, on behalf of himself and his employees, sought exemption from collection and payment of Social Security taxes on the ground that the Amish faith prohibited participation in governmental support programs. We rejected the claim that an exemption was constitutionally required. There would be no way, we observed, to distinguish the Amish believer's objection to Social Security taxes from the religious objections that others might have to the collection or use of other taxes. "If, for example, a religious adherent believes war is a sin, and if a certain percentage of the federal budget can be identified as devoted to war-related activities, such individuals would have a similarly valid claim to be exempt from paying that percentage of the income tax. The tax system could not function if denominations were allowed to challenge the tax system because tax payments were spent in a manner that violates their religious belief." Id., at 260. Cf. Hernandez v. Commissioner, 490 U.S. 680 (1989) (rejecting free exercise challenge to payment of income taxes alleged to make religious activities more difficult). [Emphasis added.]So the guv'ment can compel individuals to "pay for something" (ie a taxes for a war) even though that individual feels it violates their principles.