Just three days after Georgetown University had Kathleen Sebelius on campus to address an awards ceremony during commencement week, another prominent Catholic university found a better way of dealing with Sebelius: the University of Notre Dame filed suit against Sebelius in federal court, asking the court to enjoin and then vacate the Obama Administration’s mandate requiring employers, including Catholic universities, hospitals, and charities, to provide insurance for contraceptives, including contraceptives that act as abortifacients. In the complaint, Notre Dame included one count alleging a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, four counts alleging violations of the First Amendment’s religion clauses, one count alleging a violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech, and three counts alleging violations of the Adminstrative Procedure Act. 42 other Catholic institutions filed similar lawsuits across the country. (Georgetown was not one of them).
The Notre Dame lawsuit will likely draw more attention than the other lawsuits, because in 2009 Notre Dame honored President Obama by inviting him to be its commencement speaker and awarding him an honorary degree, despite Obama’s long and vocal support for abortion. In his speech, Obama promised to look for common ground with those who disagreed with him over abortion. Three years later, Notre Dame’s lawsuit is proof of how valuable Obama’s commitment to seeking common ground turned out to be. Now all that remains is for Notre Dame to rescind the honorary degree Obama should never have been given, preferably in a major ceremony at halftime during the home football game on the Saturday closest to the election.
UPDATE: Since writing this, I’ve read two pieces on the issue I’d like to recommend, one by Scott Richert on the substantive issue and one by Ross Douthat on the politics. Scott’s piece may be found here and Douthat’s piece may be found here.