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Faith & Justice

There’s another troubling development out of the Justice Department – a problematic move by the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Holder now says the Justice Department will defend the deeply flawed mandate put forth by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – the mandate that forces employers to provide abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception, even if it goes against their conscience.

In testimony before a Congressional subcommittee, this statement from Holder: “I think I would respectfully disagree in the sense that I don’t think the rule that HHS promulgated was one that ran counter to the religious prohibitions that are contained in the First Amendment.”

It’s difficult to imagine the nation’s top law enforcement officer – who is charged with upholding the U.S. Constitution – can reach such a skewed conclusion.

The fact is the HHS mandate, which continues to generate opposition from a broad spectrum of Americans including many Catholics, does exactly what the Attorney General refuses to acknowledge – it strikes at the very heart of the First Amendment. It violates the free exercise of religion and the conscience rights of millions of Americans.

It’s an issue we have been speaking out on for some time, an issue I addressed this week in an opinion editorial that appeared in many papers across the country.

We recently sent a legal analysis to HHS Secretary Sebelius on behalf of nearly 70,000 Americans urging that the troubling language in the regulations be removed.

While the Attorney General shuts his eyes to the constitutional violations present in the HHS mandate, he continues to refuse to accept full responsibility for a botched gun-running operation, in which a U.S. border patrol agent was murdered.

As you recall, Operation Fast & Furious sent thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels via straw purchasers – people who legally purchased guns in the United States with the known intention of illegally trafficking them somewhere else. At least 300 people in Mexico were killed with Fast & Furious weapons, including Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

In testimony Tuesday before a House appropriations subcommittee, Holder once again maintained that once this troubling program was brought to his attention, he stopped it immediately. The problem is that doesn’t quite square with the facts.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa has said he and others in Congress don’t think Holder is telling the full truth.

In an interview with FOX News, Issa said: “Well, certainly one of the reasons we doubt the legitimacy of that claim is, on Feb. 4 [2011], we received what was in fact an untruthful, a lie, a false letter that has now been retracted,” Issa said. “Lanny Breuer, one of his chief aides and number three at Justice, was in Mexico lobbying for more gun-walking. Additional evidence shows that [U.S. agent] Jaime Zapata was killed with a similar program weapon. In other words, this was a policy change that happened and continued up until fairly recently. We need to get to the bottom of it.”

In addition, Issa said that if Holder wants to show he’s cooperating with the congressional investigation and is interested in really ending gun-walking, he’d turn over the rest of the lawfully-subpoenaed documents he’s still hiding from Congress. “The inspector general at Justice has 80,000 pages and we have 6,000 pages, but even in those 6,000 pages we find damning evidence that high-ranking people in Justice knew all along and not only didn’t stop this program, but believed in it.” Issa said.

Fast & Furious and now the HHS mandate – just two recent examples of an Attorney General who continues to generate more questions and concerns with his actions and policies. And that’s a problem.

Jay Sekulow

 

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