POLITICS

Judge mocks Obama’s ‘accommodation’ proposal on contraception mandate

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

Judge Brian Cogan mocked the “accommodation” on religion liberty outlined by President Obama in regards to his health care law’s contraception mandate while ruling against a Justice Department motion to dismiss the Archdiocese of New York’s lawsuit against the regulation.

“There is no, ‘Trust us, changes are coming’ clause in the Constitution,” Cogan wrote in his ruling against DOJ. “To the contrary, the Bill of Rights itself, and the First Amendment in particular, reflect a degree of skepticism towards governmental self-restraint and self-correction.”

Cogan was referring Obama’s promise to accommodate the concerns of religiously-affiliated institutions that would have to provide free contraception.

“Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services -– no matter where they work,” Obama said in February 2011.  “So that core principle remains.  But if a woman’s employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company -– not the hospital, not the charity -– will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles.”

As Cogan noted, though, the rule has not formally been changed. Religious groups also question the sufficiency of the accommodation outlined by the president.

“The archdiocese argued in court papers that even though it is unclear what its legal obligations will be once the exemption is fully outlined, it expects to incur nearly $200 million each year in penalties if it is forced to comply with the coverage requirement,” Reuters also observes.

The Catholic Association, which has long opposed the contraception mandate, hailed the ruling. “The judge in this case acknowledged both the non-existence of the so-called accommodation as well as the injury the mandate is already and will continue to inflict on these charitable institutions,” Senior Policy Advisor Maureen Ferguson said in a statement.

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