Tom, I'm pretty optimistic about the lawsuit filed by Notre Dame and 42 other Catholic organizations. Filing essentially the same case in multiple federal district courts increases the possibility of getting the right result out of at least one, and getting mixed results will kick this issue up to the Supreme Court.
So it seems likely that we'll get the result we're all hoping for. But will that be anything more than a minor victory?
Looking at the way both sides approach the contraception mandate is instructive. The Catholic approach is a rearguard action—"We've always been good citizens; all we want to do is go back to the status quo ante." But the Obama administration and its supporters see this as merely one blow in a much larger campaign, the purpose of which is to turn women into the type of solid Democratic voting bloc that blacks currently are.
This was brought home to me in an exchange on my About.com Catholicism site. When I wrote about Georgetown inviting Kathleen Sebelius to speak, a female reader replied, "This is why the Catholic church has lost so many members. You don’t care about women."
Since all the women in the comments thread except for this one and one other had disagreed with Georgetown's decision, I asked whether this meant that those women do not care about women. The reply?
It means that not all women think for themselves. Surviving in a man’s world means carrying men’s water for a lot of women. I feel sorry for them but I try to remember that not everyone can stand up against that kind of power.
In other words, for a woman to think for herself, she must think like all of those women who agree with Barack Obama.
You've come a long way, baby.
Scott P. Richert is editor at large for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and Publisher for Our Sunday Visitor. He holds an M.A. in political theory from the Catholic University of America. He has been published in, among others, The Family in America, This World, and Humanitas. He is the Catholicism Expert for About.com.