No, Laws That Restrict Abortions Don’t Violate the First Amendment

In a recent article in Newsweek, a writer suggested that there may be people whose religion requires them to perform abortions, and therefore laws restricting the practice violate the Bill of Rights’ guarantee of the free exercise of religion. In a similar vein, the New York Times’s Linda Greenhouse contended that the First Amendment prohibition on the establishment of a federal religion preempts religiously inspired restrictions on abortion. Mitchell Rocklin and Howard Slugh dismantle this newly popular line of argumentation:

[It] makes no sense . . . to posit, as pro-choice advocates have recently done, that [restrictive] abortion laws tread on the free exercise of religion because they do not allow abortions to be performed by people who have no religious objections to them. No serious interpretation of religious liberty allows people to do whatever they want simply because their religion allows or promotes it. And even if a court decided that a state lacks a compelling interest in regulating abortion [the current legal standard in such cases], and that individual religious views ought to receive protection from the law, laws restricting abortion would not be invalidated. . . . Religious-liberty statutes [would only create accommodations or exemptions] for those people who have sincere religious objections to complying with the law.

[Moreover], the mere fact that a religion does not prohibit an act cannot be the basis of an accommodation. A request for an accommodation must be premised on [a claim] that a law prohibits something that a religion requires, or at least encourages. With regard to abortion, it is unclear if such a situation ever arises. For instance, Judaism requires an abortion if a mother’s life is at risk. Yet every abortion regulation [introduced thus far] offers an exemption in such cases. Situations that represent an actual conflict between state laws and abortions required or encouraged by religion will be extremely rare, if any exist at all. . . .

Now let’s turn to another faulty argument: that anti-abortion laws violate the Establishment Clause by imposing Christian norms on all of society. . . . The most restrictive [constitutional] test likely to apply to an abortion ban is called the “Lemon test.” That test is named for Lemon v. Kurtzman, in which the Supreme Court decided that, in order to comply with the Establishment Clause, every statute must (1) have a secular purpose, (2) not have the primary effect of promoting religion, and (3) not excessively entangle the government in religious questions. . . .

The only prong of the test that might be applicable [to abortion laws] is the purpose test, which considers whether a statute has any secular purpose. However, so long as the legislators could have had a secular [rationale] for passing the law, that is enough. It does not matter that some legislators may have a religious impulse as well. This makes sense, since otherwise the Establishment Clause would invalidate nearly all laws aimed at benefiting the poor, simply because the Bible favors charity.

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Read more at Public Discourse

More about: Abortion, First Amendment, Freedom of Religion

Is the Attempt on Salman Rushdie’s Life Part of a Broader Iranian Strategy?

Aug. 18 2022

While there is not yet any definitive evidence that Hadi Matar, the man who repeatedly stabbed the novelist Salman Rushdie at a public talk last week, was acting on direct orders from Iranian authorities, he has made clear that he was inspired by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s call for Rushdie’s murder, and his social-media accounts express admiration for the Islamic Republic. The attack also follows on the heels of other Iranian attempts on the lives of Americans, including the dissident activist Masih Alinejad, the former national security advisor John Bolton, and the former secretary of state Mike Pompeo. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was held hostage by the mullahs for over two years, sees a deliberate effort at play:

It is no coincidence this flurry of Iranian activity comes at a crucial moment for the hitherto-moribund [nuclear] negotiations. Iranian hardliners have long opposed reviving the 2015 deal, and the Iranians have made a series of unrealistic and seemingly ever-shifting demands which has led many to conclude that they are not negotiating in good faith. Among these is requiring the U.S. to delist the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in its entirety from the State Department’s list of terror organizations.

The Biden administration and its European partners’ willingness to make concessions are viewed in Tehran as signals of weakness. The lack of a firm response in the shocking attack on Salman Rushdie will similarly indicate to Tehran that there is little to be lost and much to be gained in pursuing dissidents like Alinejad or so-called blasphemers like Sir Salman on U.S. soil.

If we don’t stand up for our values when under attack we can hardly blame our adversaries for assuming that we have none. Likewise, if we don’t erect and maintain firm red lines in negotiations our adversaries will perhaps also assume that we have none.

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Read more at iNews

More about: Iran, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign policy