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Writer muddies the waters

March 12, 2012
Daily Press


It's been said that, when one finds oneself in a hole, the best advice is to stop digging. I would respectfully recommend that Bryan J. Sebeck set aside his shovel ("Clarification of Constitution letter," March 7).

In an attempt to "clarify" his woefully-misinformed initial letter on the First Amendment, Sebeck simply muddies the waters even further. To begin with, the Constitution doesn't exist in a vacuum, as Sebeck appears to believe. Its meaning is informed by a huge body of law and jurisprudence.

According to Sebeck's latest tome, "the rights of an employer do not trump the rights of an employee.

This has been held up by the courts (all the way to SCotUS) time and time again." This is patently false, as demonstrated in the relatively recent Supreme Court case of Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. E.E.O.C.

In a unanimous decision, the court held that the religiously-affiliated school was exempt from employment discrimination laws because churches and other religious groups need to be free to choose their leaders without government interference. It's hard to see how the contraception mandate would survive a court test, given this precedent.

In his original letter, Sebeck states that, under First Amendment provisions, "the government is prohibited from passing any law which gives preference to religious organizations over other organizations." He has it exactly backwards. The First Amendment's "free exercise" provision is precisely designed to elevate religion and religious belief to a special status.

There is indeed someone in this debate who doesn't understand the Constitution, but it is not Congressman Dan Benishek or Jim Anderson.

Don Curran




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