No one in the Obama Administration has any desire to accommodate religious interest in regard to the HHS contraceptive mandate. The exemption was created as a smoke screen of accommodation, but is nothing more than a way in which the Administration’s health policy officials can delve into each religious group seeking exemption and determine if they “fit within the section 6033-based exemption.”
However, emails that have been obtained via FOIA reveal that officials were treating like minded entities, like Catholic universities differently than the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, though their religious beliefs and interests were identical.
Administration health policy officials were downright obsessed with figuring out which Catholic institutions would fit within the section 6033-based exemption. As early as October 2011, the White House was curiously interested in the student insurance coverage at Catholic universities. In July 2012, emails show officials trying to make sure that the contraceptive mandate would treat the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops – the spiritual leaders of Roman Catholic entities in the United States – differently from the colleges, charities, and other groups that they lead. The documents were originally discovered during congressional inquiries into the sharing of tax information between the IRS and the White House.
An amicus brief will be filed next week in Zubik v. Burwell arguing that section 6033 is irrelevant to religious freedom.
As I argue in the forthcoming amicus brief, section 6033 has exactly zero relevance to religious freedom interests. These documents are fatal to the Administration’s claim that structuring the contraceptive mandate this way was an effort to respect the religious groups’ religious objections. In fact, it was an arbitrary choice that failed to take into account the virtually identical religious freedom interests shared by groups granted and denied an exemption from the mandate
Source: National Review