POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

Repugnant to the Constitution and Void

by David Trumbull -- March 30, 2012

Last Friday, March 23rd, over 50,000 concerned citizens gathered at public rallies in over 100 American cities to Stand Up For Religious Freedom. The Boston rally was well attended, in spite of change of location to the Boston Common less than 48 hours prior to the rally and an erroneous rumor that it was being cancelled entirely.

For me the highlight of the Boston rally was C.J. Doyle, Executive Director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts (, addressing the substantial arguments against the constitutionality of the Obama Administration's Department of Health and Human Services mandate that religiously affiliated hospitals and other institutions purchase products and services they find morally impermissible.

Mr. Doyle spoke of an earlier state attack on freedom of religion and how the United States Supreme Court ruled, unanimously, that such attacks against Church-related institutions were "repugnant to the Constitution and void."

In 1922 the Ku Klux Klan in the state of Oregon pushed for passage, by popular initiative, of a law to ban private schools and to require all children to attend state schools. When Republican governor Benjamin W. Olcott issued a 1922 executive proclamation condemning the Klan that violent organization put its support behind the election of a new governor, Democrat Walter M. Pierce, who supported the anti-Catholic school ballot initiative.

The Klan celebrated two victories in the November 1922 elections in Oregon, the anti-Catholic bigot, Democrat Pierce, defeated Republican Olcott for governor, and the voters enacted the anti-Catholic school law.

The Society of Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary sued to stop enforcement of the law and the case went, in 1925, to the U.S. Supreme Court where the law was held unconstitutional under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court declared:

"The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations."
This past week the court heard arguments regarding the unconstitutional Obama health care law. Undoubtedly it, too, will be struck down in whole or in part.