By Dou­glas W. Kmiec -

Official White House Photo

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama at Notre Dame Uni­ver­sity com­mence­ment, May 17, 2009. Offi­cial White House Photo by Pete Souza. Pub­lic Domain.


Sec­ond, there were, and remain, innu­mer­able ways for the Pres­i­dent to orches­trate the dis­tri­b­u­tion of free con­tra­cep­tives, so the chances of a court accept­ing the com­pul­sion of the morally unwill­ing as the least restric­tive means to accom­plish pub­lic pol­icy is vir­tu­ally refuted by statement.

Third, whether or not a sim­i­lar, even iden­ti­cally worded, reli­gious exemp­tion exists in other states means very lit­tle when resolv­ing  whether the exemp­tion is con­sti­tu­tional. 

An exemp­tion that exempts reli­gion only where it is litur­gi­cally incul­cat­ing the faith is not the Barack Obama of 2006 who told the sojourn­ers of a far broader and far more impor­tant under­stand­ing of faith, both in his own life and in the har­ness­ing of gov­ern­ment for good. The Barack Obama of 2006 would not have accepted the crabbed under­stand­ing of reli­gion that dwells in the HHS man­date.  Here, it is best to recall his splen­did words directly:

You need to come to church in the first place pre­cisely because you are first of this world, not apart from it. You need to embrace Christ pre­cisely because you have sins to wash away — because you are human and need an ally in this dif­fi­cult journey.

It was because of these new­found under­stand­ings that I was finally able to … affirm my Chris­t­ian faith. It came about as a choice, and not an epiphany. …

In other words, if we don’t reach out to evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians and other reli­gious Amer­i­cans and tell them what we stand for, then the Jerry Fal­wells and Pat Robert­sons and Alan Keye­ses will con­tinue to hold sway.

Our fail­ure as pro­gres­sives to tap into the moral under­pin­nings of the nation is not just rhetor­i­cal, though. Our fear of get­ting “preachy” may also lead us to dis­count the role that val­ues and cul­ture play in some of our most urgent social problems.

What explains Obama, then, v. Obama, now?

all in need.  Why exactly does the Pres­i­dent find it appro­pri­ate to defend the stan­dard given to him by His HHS Sec­re­tary which stands his favorite pas­sage from Matthew 25 on its head?  In 2008, can­di­date Obama told Rick War­ren that the great­est moral fail­ing of the nation was  not abid­ing by “that basic pre­cept in Matthew that what­ever you do for the least of my broth­ers, you do for me, and that notion of — that basic prin­ci­ple applies to poverty. It applies to racism and sex­ism. It applies to, you know, not hav­ing — not think­ing about pro­vid­ing lad­ders of oppor­tu­nity for peo­ple to get into the mid­dle class. There’s a per­va­sive sense, I think, that this coun­try, as wealthy and pow­er­ful as we are, still don’t spend enough time think­ing about the least of us.”

Finally, while the Pres­i­dent may or may not be ashamed to have been sued by Notre Dame after being hon­ored by the flag­ship of Catholic Uni­ver­si­ties in the United States, he should be.  In his com­mence­ment address, Obama promised dia­logue not direc­tives; he reaf­firmed rights of con­science, not coer­cion.   That is not what his final reg­u­la­tions do in this instance.  Both in the gen­eral bur­den the law rep­re­sents, and in the par­tic­u­lar bur­dens placed on his hon­orary alma mater.  The Pres­i­dent ought to rethink mat­ters, with­draw the error, and redraft the exemp­tion to reflect that made avail­able to the enti­ties that are deemed char­i­ta­ble under the gen­eral laws.



Douglas W. KmiecAmbas­sador (ret.) Dou­glas W. KmiecLift Up Your Hearts — The True Story of Lov­ing Your Ene­mies; Trag­i­cally Killing One’s Friends, & The Life That Remains,” (Embassy Inter­na­tional 2012).




  1. Santa Barbara says:

    Is this pseudo-Catholic STILL around? He STILL sup­ports Obama?  And he pre­sumes to lec­ture the Bish­ops on how they are charged with pro­tect­ing the exe­cu­tion of the Church’s dogma. A very typ­i­cal Obama sycophant.

  2. Houghtongrandmal says:

    Doug Kmiec, if he had any decency, would hang his head in shame at his role in elect­ing this tyrant.

    Why should and why would any­one lis­ten to any­thing Doug Kmiec has to say?

  3. CatholicDad says:

    The Doug Kmiec who told Catholics it was AOK to vote for Obama? And got an ambas­sador­ship (which he promptly lost through his incom­pe­tence) in return?
    THAT Doug Kmiec?
    He should do penance in sack­cloth and ashes, bare­foot in the snow, for sell­ing out his own Church.

  4. Kz Seea says:

    Amen to the pre­vi­ous 3 comments!

  5. Justin says:

    Great arti­cle.

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