April 26, 2012
This morning in a hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Workforce Committee, HHS Secretary Sebelius was questioned by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on the topic of religious liberty. Specifically, Rep. Gowdy questioned Secretary Sebelius' statement in her testimony indicating the careful consideration she undertook to "balance" religious liberty protections with preventive services in making the decision about the contraceptive mandate (which includes drugs that can cause abortions).
Rep. Gowdy asked the Secretary about the specifics of her "balance". In doing so he explained three tests for legal balance, depending on the content and issues being weighed. He explained that because religious liberty is a fundamental right any decision that might violate it would require the strictest scrutiny.
Under oath, the nation's HHS head stated that in making this decision and taking into consideration religious liberty issues, she relied on the expertise of HHS General Counsel. When questioned further about the counsel she received, the Secretary reported that guidance was provided entirely in discussion, and no legal memo was written on the topic. When asked further about her knowledge of the most significant cases related to relgious liberty that have been decided by the Supreme Court, the Secretary responded that she was unaware/unfamiliar with these cases. It is a telling moment.
The full video is a must-see and just over five minutes: