This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 8, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight: Well, what happened? Why are some of President Obama's friends now ditching him? We heard it's about contraception. A new President Obama health care rule has really ignited a fight, including within the Democratic Party. A new HHS rule, as part of the national health care law, requires all employers cover birth control for their workers. That includes Catholic organizations, who oppose birth control.
Republican senator Marco Rubio calls the mandate an assault on religious freedom. And he's taking action. We spoke with Senator Rubio earlier tonight.
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you, sir.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: Nice to see you.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK, the Religious Freedom Act of 2012 -- that's what your -- your act. Tell me what it is.
RUBIO: Well, it's very simple. The fundamental question is should the federal government have the power to tell a religious organization that they have to pay for something that the religious organization teaches is wrong. And that's what we have here.
This is not about contraception. It's not about social issues. This a very simple constitutional principle. We have religious protections as part of our Constitution in the 1st Amendment, the right to express yourself religiously. You have in the case -- the specific case of this bill, the Catholic church that teaches its members that the use of contraception is wrong. You can disagree with that.
But the bottom line is, should the federal government be able to go in and force them to pay for contraception, something they teach is wrong. The answer is no. That's protected under the Constitution. And what I hope is the president will reconsider, but if he doesn't, we have a bill to fix it.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, there are a lot of people who are upset about this, obviously. In fact, even some of the colleagues in the U.S. Senate disagree with you, Senator McCaskill, who's a Democrat but a Catholic -- she is supporting the president's bill. What do you say to her?
RUBIO: I say that it violates the Constitution. I mean, we -- you -- listen, we either believe in our Constitution or we don't. And the Constitution says that religious organizations are protected in their expression of religious beliefs. And if you go in and use the power of the federal government to force a religion to pay for something that the religion teaches is wrong, then you've violated that principle. You basically -- using that logic, you can force them to do all kinds of things because you think it's a good idea.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, what have you -- have you heard anything from the Obama administration on this?
VAN SUSTEREN: Not at all?
VAN SUSTEREN: Nothing.
RUBIO: Only what I've seen in the press.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you expect to hear anything?
RUBIO: Yes, I hope that they'll reconsider and say, You know what? We've heard from a bunch of people. Maybe we overreached here. My understanding from press reports is that there were actually people in his administration -- I think one of them was Vice President Biden -- that advised him against doing this, that this was an overreach. You've had some liberal commentators write that this was an overreach.
So look, there's nothing wrong with changing your mind if you -- once you get this public input. I think they're getting a lot of public input that this is a bad idea. I hope they don't dig in. I hope they'll reconsider. There are plenty of other issues for us to debate.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think they're going to give in? I mean, this is...
RUBIO: I don't know.
VAN SUSTEREN: You don't -- I mean, is there any indication...
RUBIO: I just don't know.
VAN SUSTEREN: Anything...
RUBIO: Well, I don't -- I mean, again, I don't really talk to them every day or anything like that, so I have no idea where they're headed. All I can tell you is that they really should reconsider because the implications of this are serious. This is not about women's rights or contraception, this is about the religious liberties that our country has always cherished. And if you say that the federal government has the power to force religions to do things the religions think is wrong, I mean, you've really crossed the line from -- that we don't want to cross.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, one of the things that you're quoted as saying to WLS in -- a Chicago radio station, you said that, Quite frankly -- I'm paraphrasing a bit -- if you use the logic the Obama administration used to arrive at their conclusion, it could lead to scarier results down the road.
VAN SUSTEREN: What are scarier results?
RUBIO: Well, from -- let me give you a perfect example. You now have the federal government basically saying under this administration that if we think something is a good idea -- meaning we the Obama administration -- it doesn't matter what a religion teaches. We can force you to do it because we know what's best, and we're more important than you. Our policy positions, the policy positions of the Obama administration, are more important than your constitutional protections.
If that's the logic that they're using to reach this conclusion, you can start applying that to a whole bunch of religions and all kinds of other faith systems. And then what is the constitutional protection worth? So we have to be very careful about this, and I hope they'll reconsider.
VAN SUSTEREN: How many calls are you getting? Because even when we walked in here, we saw a priest in your waiting room. And we see people all over Capitol Hill. It seems that this is getting a lot of attention, certainly from the Catholic church, and a lot of religions.
RUBIO: It is. But again, it's not about the contraception part of it. It's about -- and the end of the day, it's about the fact that now the federal government has the power to force a religion to pay for something the religion teaches is wrong. And if the federal government has the power to do that, then we've come -- I mean, we've really extended the power of the federal government beyond anywhere that anyone is comfortable with.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, a very hot race, the 2012 Republican nomination race, but let me ask you -- one of the candidates -- obviously, Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, former governor -- in 2005, Governor Romney required all Massachusetts hospitals, as a governor, including Catholic ones, to provide emergency contraception to rape victims. And some Catholics say that -- this is the so-called morning-after pill -- is an abortion. Your thought about that.
RUBIO: Well, it's the first I hear of it, and I don't know what Governor Romney's response would be to it or what all the facts are. I would just say that there are states that have rules like that, whatever states they are, that it's obviously up to the state legislators in those states or -- to change it or for people to go to the federal courts or the state courts and say this violates the Constitution.
I'm focused on what's happening here at the federal level, so I'm not aware of what you've asked about. It's the first time I hear of it. But suffice it to say that I think that religious organizations should not be forced to pay for things or to do things that violate the tenets of their faith.