(THE NEW YORKER) — The decision of some forty-three Roman Catholic dioceses, schools, and social services to sue the Obama Administration is both baffling and dismaying. The lawsuit, announced last week, takes aim at the proposed rule by which most employers would have to include contraception coverage in their health-insurance plans. Going to court will embed the Church in partisan politics and yoke it to the right wing. Not the worthiest of approaches – especially when the Administration has suggested a compromise, a means by which insurance companies, not the Catholic employers themselves, would pay for and administer birth-control coverage, and was still taking public comments on it.
The compromise is actually impractical, since so many Catholic employers, like most other large employers in the United States, insure themselves rather than contracting out, but still it was the start of a discussion, and some prominent Catholics greeted it as such. “I am really appreciative of what the President did,” said the Reverend Gregory Lucey, the president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, in February. “I’m optimistic and hopeful, and feel the religious liberty-issue is addressed.” Then, too, Catholics and non-Catholics alike could be forgiven for wondering if the church’s legal resources weren’t stretched pretty thin defending itself in cases involving child abuse and its cover-up.