They Had To Pass The Bill To Find Out What Was In It

Friday, July 04, 2014
In 1993, the Democratic majority controlled Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SFRA).  With great fanfare, the Democrats' recently-elected President, Bill Clinton, signed the bill into law.  The law has had some controversy with several decisions over the last 20 years by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).  In one case, the SCOTUS did rule the law could not be imposed upon the states, but generally it has been upheld.  

Now, after 20 years as law of the land, many Democrats are expressing alarm at what the law requires.
 Namely, as the SCOTUS recently ruled, the law requires that any government mandates not exempted from the law that impinge upon a person’s religious liberty must be the “least restrictive alternative” to achieve the government’s compelling interest.  In the ruling, the court noted that the HHS had offered accommodation to some religious groups.  As such, the imposition upon Hobby Lobby was not the “least restrictive alternative” to achieve the government’s interest and the HHS mandate was in violation of the RFRA.

Now we hear from national and local Democrats that they are shocked at what was in the bill that became the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  Apparently, the RFRA protects religious beliefs from wanton impositions by government officials and requires that any requirement imposed to fulfill a compelling governmental interest be the least restrictive alternative.  What that “least restrictive alternative” is remains to be determined in future SCOTUS decisions, but we know it isn’t as the bureaucrats imposed in the law.  

Now this all comes about because of another bill passed by a Democratic majority controlled Congress and signed into law by a recently elected Democrat president.  That bill was the Patient Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as, Obamacare.  Of that bill, House Speaker Pelosi said that they had to pass the bill to see what was in it.  Given their surprise at what was in the RFRA, perhaps we should be nervous about what will be found in the much longer and complex Obamacare law.  

However, one thing we now know is not in the Obamacare law, and could have been added so very easily, with just a single sentence, is an exemption from the RFRA.  Surprise for the Democrats who passed the bill?  Or did they leave the exemption out to keep support for passing the legislation?  Perhaps it was just an oversight.  If we remember, the bill was thrown together late at night then rushed to a vote with no time for it to be read, i.e., they had to pass it to find out what was in it.  Some Congressional aide could have dozed off and lost their place when they wrote the bill up leaving out the sentence?

What we do know is, back in 1993, a Democratic majority controlled Congress and a Democrat president enacted a law that now, 20 years later, many Democrats, a good many of them in that Congress or involved in that White House are shocked, shocked they say, at what was in the bill.  

Of course, they don’t frame their response that way.   Instead they say it is a war on women.  When in reality it is simply a group of bureaucrats in Washington who couldn’t be bothered in complying with the law of the land as they decided that employers must provide “free” birth control, including those that act after conception.  The bureaucrats with their Democrat administration political leaders decided that the religious beliefs of those now required to provide this “free” benefit were to be run roughshod over.  

Imagine their surprise to discover that the law of the land applies even to government bureaucrats and agencies.  At least in this instance.

Jeff K. Brown
Georgetown

Steve Smith Is The Kind Of Man We Need In Office

I am not an attorney.  I have no professional relationship with Steve Smith.  I don't know anything about the roles and responsibilities of the office of pubic defender.  I simply know the man and his family.   Steve and I serve together on the Administrative Council at Signal Mountain United Methodist Church.  Steve is a family man, a thoughtful ... (click for more)

Re-Elect My Boss, Gwen Tidwell

I would like to take this opportunity to ask that you re-elect my boss, Gwen Tidwell as the Criminal Court clerk for another four years.  Ms. Tidwell has served as Criminal Court  lerk since 1994 and has done a great job and she would like to continue doing so. Since she was elected in 1994 she has made significant changes in the office to help us do a better job ... (click for more)

DA Looking Into Issue Of County Commission Candidate's Campaign Sending Filled-Out Requests For Absentee Ballot To Elderly Voters

The District Attorney's Office has been provided with documents that a County Commission candidate's campaign sent filled-out requests for absentee ballots to elderly voters. Kerry Steelman, election administrator, said there have been four instances in which such requests came from the Elect John Brooks campaign. He said state law says in Section 2-6-202:  (3) A person ... (click for more)

Graham Says County School-City Lawsuit Settlement "Stinks," But County Commission Approves It

The County Commission on Wednesday approved a settlement of a lawsuit brought by the Hamilton County Schools against the city of Chattanooga, though several commissioners said they were not happy with the deal and Commissioner Joe Graham said it "stinks." Commissioner Graham was the lone no vote. He was joined by Commissioner Tim Boyd in a failed effort to defer it a week. ... (click for more)

Mocs Picked First In SoCon Polls

The Chattanooga Mocs football team is the pick of litter in the Southern Conference. Coming off its first league title since 1984, the SoCon coaches and media deemed the Mocs the team to beat in 2014.   “It means we have good players,” Head Coach  Russ Huesman  said. “There is a long way to go from now until late November (when the regular season ends). ... (click for more)

Soddy-Daisy's Wright Commits To MTSU Baseball

Soddy-Daisy’s Andy Wright, a rising senior and dual-threat player, has made a non-binding verbal commitment to play baseball at Middle Tennessee State University. Wright, a pitcher/third baseman, chose the Conference USA Blue Raiders over Belmont, Air Force, Navy, UT-Martin and Carson-Newman. “I’m glad to get this (decision) off my back so I can enjoy my senior year,” Wright ... (click for more)