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The run-up to debate in the Senate on health care and abortion is already producing some interesting comments. The Senate bill offered by Senate Majority Leader Reid does not include any pro-life language like that of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment which was approved by the House. In fact, the Reid bill mandates federally subsidized abortion and actually requires a monthly abortion fee.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) says he will offer a pro-life amendment to the Senate bill with language very similar to the House-passed Stupak-Pitts Amendment. And, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich), who’s led the charge to remove abortion funding from health care, says he has the votes necessary to block passage if the Senate version does not include pro-life language.
The full court press is on to discredit the pro-life language in the House-passed bill. Some in the legal community are questioning the constitutionality of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, and one of our senior attorneys has produced a sound rebuttal to those flawed arguments.
There’s a lot of debate ahead in the Senate, but at the end of the day we’re hopeful that the Senate will do what a clear majority of the American people want – more than 60% according to the latest CNN poll — prohibit federal funding of abortions in health care. And, yes – millions of Americans – including Catholics – will once again be active expressing their concerns.
Now, Barry, on to another topic I know you enjoy debating – whether the national motto and Pledge of Allegiance – on display in the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. – violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
That’s exactly what the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) claims. In its ongoing quest to purge all things religious from society, the FFRF has filed a federal lawsuit challenging engravings which include the words “In God We Trust” and “one nation under God” at the recently-completed Capitol Visitor Center.
We’ve just filed an amicus brief with a federal district court in Wisconsin on behalf of 50 members of Congress – including Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) who chairs the Congressional Prayer Caucus.
Once again, the FFRF is trying to create a constitutional crisis that simply doesn’t exist. This lawsuit borders on the frivolous – a waste of judicial resources at a time when those resources are needed in cases involving real threats to American liberties.
It’s also clear that both the national motto and Pledge accurately reflect the historical fact that our nation was founded on a belief in God and that the constitutionality of both is well established in case law. These expressions echo the sentiments found in the Declaration of Independence and recognize the undeniable truth that our freedoms come from God.
As is the case with many of these troubling lawsuits, there’s a lot riding on the outcome. As we point out in our brief, if this suit is successful “it will undoubtedly embolden further challenges to other religious expressions in government venues, including the several religious works of art and various religious inscriptions in the Capitol Complex, as well as the prayer rooms in House and Senate Office buildings.”
Our brief contends that the First Amendment does not compel the redaction of all references to God just to suit atheistic preferences. “While the First Amendment affords atheists complete freedom to disbelieve, it does not compel the federal judiciary to redact religious references in every area of public life in order to suit atheistic sensibilities,” the brief asserts.
This challenge is another misguided attempt to alter history and purge America of religious references. We’re hopeful it will meet the same fate as other flawed challenges and be rejected by the court.
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