By Tom Quiner
The Obama administration tried to tell churches who they could hire as pastors.
His Justice Department tried to push around the Lutheran Church.
The case, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, went all the way to the Supreme Court
The Obama Justice department said that if a church violates anti-discrimination laws, the government can tell the church who they may hire as a minister.
Team Obama said the clergy have no special protection under the Constitution, the First Amendment be damned.
The Supreme Court unanimously disagreed with the thinking of the Obama administration.
The case was important because it reveals the disdain Mr. Obama and his team has for the First Amendment.
Undeterred by this setback, Mr. Obama went after First Amendment religious freedom rights again with the imposition of the HHS Mandate. For the uninitiated, the HHS Mandate requires employers and even religious organizations to include free morning-after human abortion pills, free sterilization, and free contraception in their health insurance plans.
People of faith who find that these items violate their religious beliefs were told “tough.” This trampling on religious liberty is now working its way through the courts and will most certainly end up before the Supreme court.
The HHS Mandate is important because it again reveals the disdain Mr. Obama and his team has for the First Amendment.
We’ve just learned that the Obama Justice Department issued sweeping demands for back months of office, cellular and home telephone records of a number of Associated Press reporters and editors, a move lawyers said will have a chilling affect on First Amendment free speech rights.
And finally, the IRS has admitted it targeted conservative groups with intimidation, red tape, and unprecedented intrusions. Even Catholic and pro life groups with views at odds with the Democratic Party, were targeted. This morning, the Des Moines Register ran a front page story on how the IRS targeted a Cedar Rapids pro life group, Coalition for Life of Iowa.
The Register reports:
[Sue] Martinek’s small group applied to the IRS in 2009 for status as a tax-exempt charity, which would allow supporters to make tax-deductible donations. Martinek figured the application would sail through, but she said she then received a startling phone call from an IRS agent. She said the agent wanted to know what went on during the group’s prayer sessions and during vigils outside the local Planned Parenthood clinic.
The agent followed up with a letter in June 2009, asking similar questions. “Please explain how all of your activities, including the prayer meetings held outside of Planned Parenthood, are considered educational,” the letter said. “… Please explain in detail the signs that are being held up outside of Planned Parenthood and explain how they are educational.”
Ms. Martinek, the leader of the group, was forced to secure legal counsel to help ramrod her simple application through. She told the Register the IRS seemed very intent on protecting Planned Parenthood:
Martinek said that at one point, an IRS agent said that to gain tax-exempt status, her group’s board members would all have to sign a sworn statement saying they wouldn’t picket outside the Planned Parenthood clinic.
I pray the president isn’t involved. The stakes are high. One of the articles of impeachment charged Richard Nixon with improperly using the power of the IRS against his political enemies:
“He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavoured to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposed not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be intitiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.”
Peggy Noonan, writing in the Wall Street Journal said this kind of abuse of power can “kill America:”
“We are at a point now where you can make a list of things that, all combined and allowed to continue, can kill America. This is one of them. Widespread belief that the revenue-collecting arm of the US government is hopelessly corrupt is one of them.”
The seizure of AP phone records and IRS abuse all are attacks on our First Amendment rights.
I don’t know if all of this abuse came from the top down or not. But Barack Obama has made it clear that Americans should get over their love affair with the First Amendment. This is shocking beyond words, for as the First Amendment goes, America goes.