Claremont, CA—On Monday, the Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence (CCJ) filed an amicus brief in Trump v. Pennsylvania¸ a case that challenges a Third Circuit decision forcing the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic religious order, to provide contraceptives to their employees.
Responding to the claim that Congress did not authorize a conscience exemption to the contraception mandate, Dr. John Eastman, the founder of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, and Tom Caso, the Center’s clinical director, argue that Congress in fact enacted no such mandate.
“Congress enacted a law requiring insurance plans to include preventative care for women," Eastman and Caso write in the brief. "Congress did not specify in the statute what that meant (although floor debate made clear that it was aimed at cancer screenings and other such preventative care, not at anything related to abortion and contraception).”
Furthermore, the lower court's issuance of a nationwide injunction constitutes a usurpation of the power that is proper to the Supreme Court and circumvents normal judicial procedure, as “the practice of nationwide injunctions puts pressure on the Court to intervene in cases before a conflict among the circuits has even developed.”
Eastman and Caso also provide several examples from early American history, demonstrating that the protection of conscience has been intimately tied up with freedom of religion in the United States, even before the ratification of the Constitution. Freedom of religion has never referred only to freedom of worship, but has also included the freedom to live in accordance with the teachings of one’s faith.
"The free exercise of religion recognized and protected by the First Amendment reflects the founding generation’s view that the duty one owes to the Creator is both prior to and higher than any duty owed to government,” Eastman and Caso write.
In light of these arguments, Claremont’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence urges the Court to overturn the Third Circuit’s decision and to protect the rights of the Little Sisters under the First Amendment.
The Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence is the public interest law arm of the Claremont Institute, whose stated mission is to restore the principles of the American founding to their rightful and preeminent authority in our national life.