Ideals such as faith and freedom have been critically important throughout our nation’s history. They were the driving forces that brought the pilgrims to Plymouth Rock. They inspired tens of thousands of colonists in 17th century England to come to America. They also are what drove the pioneers to cross the Great Plains in covered wagons and settle Utah in 1847.
While these groups had differing views, they shared a few things in common – a desire to worship and practice their faith free of persecution and intolerance, and to pursue a better way of life unfettered by the shackles of undue government interference. Just like us, they sought the American Dream.
Throughout my Senate service, I have done everything I can to protect that dream. That is why I was honored this past week to receive the Friend of Freedom Award from the Faith and Freedom Coalition for my efforts. Led by Ralph Reed, the coalition is dedicated to upholding the bedrock American values of faith and family and to promoting policies that focus on limited government and fiscal responsibility.
Those are values I wholeheartedly believe in and have always fought for. Unfortunately, those same values have been under siege by this White House over the past three-and-half years. One example, identified by the coalition, was the attempt earlier this year by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to require religion-affiliated institutions to cover abortion-inducing drugs in their insurance plans.
Forcing people of faith and faith-based institutions to violate their most cherished beliefs is an unconstitutional abuse of government power. It violates every American’s First Amendment right to religious freedom, as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act I was responsible for getting signed into law in 1993 that bars the federal government from burdening the free exercise of religion. That’s why I have led in the fight to combat this affront to our religious liberties. I also have battled to ensure that taxpayers are not forced to fund abortion.
But the fight doesn’t end there.
On another front the coalition outlined, I spearheaded the fight to pass the Balanced Budget Amendment, which would require Washington to balance its budget every year, just like we here in Utah do. I also fought to pass cut, cap and balance legislation that would have cut federal spending and capped future spending to 20 percent of our nation’s gross domestic product.
Then there is repealing Obamacare, one of the coalition’s core issues and a cause that has been central to my efforts in my service to Utah. I was the first senator to argue that this $2.6 trillion health law’s individual mandate, which would force every American to buy health insurance or pay a hefty fine, is unconstitutional. I also filed a friend-of-the-court brief to the Supreme Court, which is now poised to rule on that issue. Not content to leave the matter to the courts, I further introduced the American Liberty Restoration Act, which would repeal the individual mandate.
I’ve also introduced legislation to shrink the size of government; opposed the President’s wasteful misnamed stimulus bills; vigorously fought the nomination of Goodwin Liu and other liberal judicial activists to the federal bench; and fought the White House’s push to raise the nation’s debt limit and close access to our public lands for energy development, just to name a few.
No, I and other fiscal conservatives who are a minority in the Senate have not won every single battle. But we have had some significant success in shutting off this Administration’s inroads into our religious liberties and economic opportunities.
Even so, much remains to be done. I am committed to finishing the job -- to keep on fighting until we prevail and the American Dream is as available to future generations as it has been to us.
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah