#1 U.S. Catholic contract unconstitutional: ACLU suit. (Human Trafficking)01-13-2009, 03:51 PMU.S. Catholic contract unconstitutional: ACLU suit
Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:35pm EST
By Scott Malone
BOSTON (Reuters) - A U.S. civil liberties group sued the federal government Monday, charging it violated the Constitution by contracting a Roman Catholic entity to help victims of human trafficking.
The American Civil Liberties Union said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was imposing its beliefs on victims of human trafficking by not allowing federal grant money to be used for contraception or abortion.
When the bishops applied for the contracts, they said they would not work with subcontractors who provided abortion services or contraceptives, such as condoms, which conflict with Catholic teachings, according to the ACLU.
The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Boston said the Department of Health and Human Services violated the separation of church and state by giving the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops $6 million in grants from 2006 through 2008.
Many women victims of human trafficking are forced to work as prostitutes, and face a high risk of assault and rape, the ACLU said in court papers.
The Department of Health and Human Services permitted the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops "to impose its own religiously based substantive restrictions on the use of grant funds," the ACLU argued.
The suit asks the court to stop the department from allowing its grants being spent in a way that is restricted by religious beliefs.
Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the bishops' conference said the $6 million figure cited in the suit was the full amount authorized. But "far less" money had been appropriated, she said without giving a figure.
"The problem of trafficking in this country is huge and serious and the Catholic Church has the best network of services bar none," she said. "Going to the Catholic Church for social services is very logical."
#2 ACLU Seeks To Prohibit Free Exercise Of Religion
01-14-2009, 02:39 PM
- Join Date
- Aug 2005
On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit in federal court against the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure that funds distributed through the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) are not being used to impose religiously based restrictions on reproductive health services.
The complaint (ACLU of Massachusetts v. Leavitt) was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. It states that since 2006 HHS has allowed the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to limit, based on its religious beliefs, the types of services trafficking victims receive with taxpayer dollars.
The ACLU claims that since April 2006, HHS, which administers funds allocated by the federal TVPA, has awarded the USCCB grants ranging from $2.5 to $3.5 million annually to support organizations that provide direct services to trafficking victims. As part of its sub-granting program, USCCB prohibits, based on its religious beliefs, grantees from using federal funds to provide or refer for contraceptive or abortion services.
“For more than two years, the Bush administration has sanctioned the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ blatant misuse of taxpayer dollars,” said Daniel Mach, Director of Litigation for the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. “It has allowed USCCB to impose its religious beliefs on trafficking victims by prohibiting sub grantees from ensuring access to services like emergency contraception, condoms and abortion care.”
But others interpret what the USCCB does and the ACLU’s legal action quite differently. They say that the ACLU’s lawsuit is trying to manipulate the federal government to violate the free exercise of religion clause of the First Amendment rather than the establishment clause.
“What they are doing has more to do with prohibiting the free exercise of religion than it does with the establishment of religion. They are forcing the Church to go against its religious beliefs,” said Father Michael Orsi, professor of law and religion at Ave Maria University Law School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Fr. Orsi said a double standard exists. He points out that the ACLU opposed the Solomon Act — which says law schools will lose their federal funding if they ban military recruiting on campus — because of the First Amendment. But they want to force religious organizations to abandon their beliefs to comply with the First Amendment.
Worse, they would rather see the problem continue than have the USCCB involved as it is now.
“The fact is the Church is dealing with the trafficking. The Church does not have to give out abortion information,” he said.
According to the Attorney General’s Annual Report on Human Trafficking the TVPA designated HHS responsible for helping victims of human trafficking become eligible to receive benefits and services so they may rebuild their lives in the United States.
ORR maintains a contract with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to provide this assistance. The report states, “Through this contract, ORR has streamlined support services to help victims gain access to shelter, job training, and health care, and provided a mechanism for victims to receive vital emergency services prior to receiving certification.”
USCCB provides case management services to precertified and certified victims on a per capita reimbursement basis. During the 2007 fiscal year, 207 pre-certified and 457 certified victims received services through this contract. USCCB had 93 subcontracts with service providers in 125 locations to provide services to trafficking victims in their communities.
The ACLU sees this as an inappropriate use of federal funds.
“We are asking the court to stop this misuse of taxpayer dollars and to protect the health and safety of trafficking victims,” said Sarah Wunsch, staff attorney with the ACLU of Massachusetts.
But Fr. Orsi says the ACLU’s case is weak. He sees it as a “non sequitur.”
He said he believes the Catholic Church is helping these victims to live good quality lives by helping to free themselves from their enslavement. The ACLU’s position that it must provide birth control and abortion counseling is irrelevant.
“What is the correlation between providing abortion information and escaping from the slavery of sex trafficking,” he said. “They are conflating the two issues of the sex trafficking industry with abortion.”
01-14-2009, 03:16 PM
Typical of the left. Don't dare do any good without encouraging women to murder their unborn children because if you don't tell women to murder their unborn children - you're in trouble with the ACLU.Stand up for what is right, even if you have to stand alone.
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