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BYU law professors sign letter declaring Obama compromise 'unacceptable'

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 14 2012 11:37 p.m. MST

Two BYU law professors joined more than 100 prominent scholars to lay out objections to a compromise proposal by the Obama administration on a policy requiring employers to subsidize free contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.

Associated Press

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Two BYU law professors joined more than 100 prominent scholars to lay out objections to a compromise proposal by the Obama administration on a policy requiring employers to subsidize free contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.

Professors Cole Durham and Lynn Wardle, both of BYU's J. Reuben Clark law school in Provo, joined a letter whose primary authors include Catholic University President John Garvey, Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon and Princeton Law Professor Robert P. George. George is a member of the Deseret News Editorial Advisory Board.

"This so-called 'accommodation' changes nothing of moral substance and fails to remove the assault on religious liberty and the rights of conscience which gave rise to the controversy," the letter reads. "It is certainly no compromise."

"The simple fact is that the Obama administration is compelling religious people and institutions who are employers to purchase a health insurance contract that provides abortion-inducing drugs, contraception and sterilization," the letter continues. "This is a grave violation of religious freedom and cannot stand. It is an insult to the intelligence of Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims and other people of faith and conscience to imagine that they will accept an assault on their religious liberty if only it is covered up by a cheap accounting trick."

The letter came after the administration's effort to diffuse the controversy last weekend met mixed reviews.

Two new polls out over the weekend give conflicting reports on how the president is fairing with Catholics. According to Gallup, all is well on the Catholic front, and the president continues to enjoy ratings very comparable to his national numbers. But a Rasmussen poll tells a very different story.

Focusing on the "likely voter," rather than the general population, Rasmussen finds that "59 percent of likely Catholic voters nationwide at least somewhat disapprove of the president’s job performance, while 40 percent at least somewhat approve. But the passion’s on the side of those who don’t like the job he’s doing: 44 percent Strongly Disapprove versus 19 percent who Strongly Approve."

"Fifty-four percent of Catholics voted for Obama in November 2008. However, Republican hopeful Mitt Romney currently leads the president among Catholic voters by a 52 percent to 35 percent margin. Among all voters, however, President Obama leads Romney and all Republican hopefuls."

If Rasmussen's numbers hold up, they suggest rough sailing ahead for President Obama.

Eric Schulzke writes on national politics for the Deseret News. He can be contacted at eschulzke@desnews.com.

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