Rep. Joe Pitts: What Happened To The First Amendment?

Rep. Joe Pitts
Pottstown Mercury

Some of our most cherished freedoms are contained in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In order, the amendment protects our rights to freedom of religion, freedom of speech and of the press, and the freedom of assembly.

Actions by the President’s administration are chipping away at each one of these freedoms in distinct ways. First, the new health care law attacks the freedom of religious conscience. Second, the Department of Justice has issued a questionable subpoena of Associated Press phone records. Finally, the Internal Revenue Service has discriminated against conservative groups trying to voice their objections to an expansive federal government.

The freedom of religion includes the protection to follow one’s conscience. Under the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, the government is mandating that employers provide insurance that pays for all forms of contraception. This includes coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization.

There is only a very narrow exception for houses of worship and seminaries. Basically, the government is telling employers that they either have to violate their conscientious objections to these services or drop health insurance all together and pay a fine.

Religious charities and schools don’t see their actions as separate from their faith. They are a natural outpouring of their calling to serve God. The federal government is seeking to dictate what is right and wrong and make them choose between their calling and their conscience.

This is a grievous assault on the freedom of religion. We shouldn’t force this choice on any employer.

Freedom of the press means that reporters should have a reasonable expectation to privacy. This week, we discovered that the Department of Justice issued a highly questionable subpoena for the phone records of the Associated Press. Records included reporters’ home phones and even a phone in the House of Representatives press gallery.

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