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Trey Gowdy Takes Sebelius to Law School

• April 27, 2012 11:43 am

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REP. GOWDY: Do you agree with me that government cannot force certain religious beliefs on its citizens?

SEC. SEBELIUS: Yes, sir.

REP. GOWDY: And why can they not do that?

SEC. SEBELIUS: Why can government not–

REP. GOWDY: Yeah.

SEC. SEBELIUS: — force religious beliefs?

REP. GOWDY: What's the basis of that?

SEC. SEBELIUS: The separation of church and state.

REP. GOWDY: Well, it's the Constitution, right? The First Amendment. Can government decide which religious beliefs are acceptable and not acceptable?

SEC. SEBELIUS: No, sir.

REP. GOWDY: And why can they not do that?

SEC. SEBELIUS: It's part of our Constitution.

REP. GOWDY: It's a legal analysis. For me, this is not a political analysis. It is a legal analysis. So before this rule was promulgated, did you read any of the Supreme Court cases on religious liberty?

SEC. SEBELIUS: I did not.

REP. GOWDY: You would agree with me that our society has a compelling interest — not just an important interest, a compelling interest, in having an educated citizenry, right?

SEC. SEBELIUS: Yes, sir.

REP. GOWDY: All right. So when a state said you have to send your children to school until a certain age and a religious group objected because they did not want to send their children to school until that certain age, do you know who won? It went to the Supreme Court.

SEC. SEBELIUS: I do not.

REP. GOWDY: The religious group won. I think state has a compelling interest in banning animal sacrifice. Whether it's compelling or just important is irrelevant for purposes of this discussion. When a state banned the practice of animal sacrifice and a religious group objected, it went to the Supreme Court. Do you know who won that?

SEC. SEBELIUS: I do not, sir.

REP. GOWDY: The religious group won. I think the state has an important interest in having license tags on automobiles so law enforcement can know who they're dealing with. When a religious group objected to having a certain license tag on their cars, it went to the Supreme Court. Do you know who won?

SEC. SEBELIUS: I do not.

REP. GOWDY: The religious group won. And most recently, I happen to think government has a compelling interest in avoiding gender discrimination. But this administration took to the Supreme Court a case — Hosanna-Tabor — where a religious group wanted to decide who its teachers were even if it meant gender discrimination. It was a nine to nothing opinion in favor of religious liberty. So when you say you balance things, can you understand why I might be seeking a constitutional balancing instead of any other kind?

SEC. SEBELIUS: I do, sir, and I defer to our lawyers to give me good advice on the Constitution. I do not pretend to be a constitutional lawyer nor do I weigh in to that —

REP. GOWDY: Is there a legal memo that you relied on? At least when Attorney General–

SEC. SEBELIUS: I relied on discussion.

REP. GOWDY: At least when Attorney Gen. Holder made his recess appointments there was a legal memo that he relied on. Is there one you can share with us?

SEC. SEBELIUS: Attorney Gen. Holder clearly runs the Justice Department and lives in a world of legal memos.

REP. GOWDY: Do you have Attorney General–

REP. KLINE: I'm sorry. The gentleman's time has expired. You can ask such a question for the record. Mr. Andrews.