I know this has been said in different ways, but let me take a moment to state it my way, from the perspective of Faith. In particular, from the perspective of the 4th commandment – Honor thy Father and Mother. From this commandment, we teach that one must respect legitimate authority and must obey a just civil law.
We have the Declaration of Independence, a very important document and one that sets the foundation and basic principles for the Constitution of the United States. In particular it recognizes the God of the Christians and that this God has authority that should not be violated by man, among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The Constitution continues to recognize this God by implementing fundamental principals of freedom and rights of the individual over the state and follows the word of Jesus when He said that you would have no authority if it were not given to you by my Father. That is to say that the three branches of Government have no authority if it is not given to them by the Constitution (enumerated rights). Why is this important? It was done for the protection of the people, that government would remain small in its reach into the lives of people, so that their (Christian) God given rights would not be violated.
The Constitution is then clear in these enumerated rights that Congress is the Legislative branch, that is the part of government that makes the laws. It further declares that the President is the Executive branch, that is the part of government that implements the law.
We keep in mind the hierarchy of laws here. The Constitution and the principals of the Declaration of Independence upon which it is founded is the highest law of the land, second only to God’s laws. The laws then passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by the president must be in conformity to the Constitution. They may not violate or change the Constitution. The third branch of the government, the Judicial branch, is the one who is in charge to make sure that this happens.
In other words, the laws passed and signed are only authoritative to the extent that the are legal themselves. Legal means in conformity with the Constitution that limits government with only a certain arena of authority. Note that an arena has a perimeter, a boundary.
The first point being, the president can only exec the laws as written and may not exec beyond or above the law as written. The idea that Obama thinks he can move without congress is immoral on many fronts. It is his job to wait for congress to do their part. And if Congress is divided, then the president must wait. He can assist Congress in coming up with a law, but he may not usurp their authority under the guise of executive decision.
Law ends with Congress. No one else may write law. Then what of all these so-called laws made by bureaucrats, departments, and agencies? These cannot be called laws as such. They do so as to scare us, but they are not laws. They are mandates, rules, regulations, or other such things. They are sub law for they were not passed by Congress. They were made by unelected bureaucrats who like the President can only exec the laws and only those laws that pertain to their little fiefdom.
Now let us look at the Supreme Court decision on Hobby Lobby. What was the problem? The problem was that a department (HHS in this case) wanted to make as law, the obligation of business to provide contraception to employees. The HHS does not have the right to make laws. They made a mandate of some sort. A mandate that they wanted to trump the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. They wanted a mandate to be given more authority than the highest Authority of the land. And in doing so, they wanted to trump the law of THE HIGHEST AUTHORITY – GOD! They want people to forgo their God given and Constitutionally recognized right to practice their faith for a lesser bureaucratically made mandate.
People are decrying that we are taking away woman’s right. First, we (Catholics) do not recognize that woman have a right to contraception. To health care yes, but not to contraception. And as to health care, people (man or woman, adult or child, of whatever race, or creed) only have the right to have access to health care. No one has an obligation to give it to them or to pay for it for them. We can talk about charity some other time on this point. On a second note. While women may have a legal right (a license) to use contraception, no one has the obligation to provide it to them. Again, this is by Catholic standards as guaranteed us by God and Constitution.
As such, the Supreme Court said that Hobby Lobby was correct. They said that a constitutional law may not be trumped by a bureaucratic mandate.
To this I go a bit further. A note to Hobby Lobby. It is great that you agree that the 4 contraceptives are immoral and contrary to your faith. But what of the other 16? They are immoral too and contrary to your Faith.
Let me go further. If a bureaucrat cannot trump the Constitution, can Congress? This was already answered. Congress can only make laws that are in conformity to the Constitution. So when they pass a budget and laws that force us to pay taxes to pay for contraception, abortions, and many other things that are contrary to our Faith, are those laws legal? They are forcing us under the threat of prison, to fund immoral activity that violates our Faith and is an act that if we directly participated in would mean automatic excommunication. That is how serious it is to our Faith.
Is there a 1st amendment in the Constitution or not? And should it not apply to Congress as well? It applies to HHS.