Showing posts with label Religious Freedom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religious Freedom. Show all posts

Monday, June 30, 2014

Supreme Court Sides With Hobby Lobby In Obamacare Contraceptive Mandate Case

The five conservative justices of the Supreme Court ruled today that the contraceptive mandate included as a part of the Affordable Care Act for employer-sponsored health insurance plans cannot be enforced against private, closely-held corporations like Hobby Lobby. The majority opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby authored by Justice Samuel Alito held that the contraceptive mandate, as applied to closely-held corporations like Hobby Lobby, violated the owners of the company's religious beliefs against abortions under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"). Regulations adopted by the Health & Human Services agency for the ACA would have subjected companies like Hobby Lobby to a penalty of $2,000 per employee if their employer-sponsored health care plans did not include the mandated contraceptive coverage that HHS determined was required to fulfill the ACA's mandate of providing preventive care and screening for women under any group employee health insurance plan.

The majority's opinion found that the government has other means of achieving its contraceptive coverage without imposing a substantial burden on the business owner's exercise of their religious freedom. The majority emphasized that its opinion was narrowly applied to only touch on the contraceptive mandate of the ACA regulations and would not touch things like vaccinations and blood transfusions. The majority also emphasized that its holding should not be interpreted as a shield for employers who might utilize religious freedom to cloak illegal discrimination. Because its decision rested on its interpretation of RFRA, the Court did not reach the First Amendment claims in the case. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sharply criticized the majority for allowing a private corporation to opt out of any law "they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious briefs" in "a decision of startling breadth."

UPDATE: Contrary to the leftist meme, Congress never passed a law mandating coverage in health care plans for contraceptives. The ACA mandate was a product of rule-making by the Obama-run Human and Health Services agency in implementing the ACA. As we've seen time and time again, the written law means absolutely nothing when it comes to President Obama. This President believes he's a king who can act by executive fiat whenever he so chooses without any legislative authorization from Congress. This debate should never have been based on religious grounds; rather, it should have been based on what was medically necessary to provide "preventive care" services for women within the meaning of the ACA. Taking a prescribed medication to terminate a pregnancy for convenience after having unprotected sex, in my view, doesn't not fall within the meaning of "preventive care."

Monday, February 24, 2014

State Rep. Eric Turner Thinks Some State Contractors Should Be Allowed To Discriminate Against Employees Based On Religion

State Rep. Eric Turner (R-Cicero) believes that some state contractors should be permitted to discriminate in their hiring decisions and other conditions of employment under an amendment he successfully offered in the House Ways & Means Committee to SB 367, a bill pertaining to property taxation. The Star's Tony Cook provides the following information on today's action:
Some state contractors would be allowed to discriminate against employees based on religion under a provision state lawmakers slipped into an unrelated bill during a House committee meeting today.
The change to Senate Bill 367, a property tax bill, would allow any school, college, or religious institution affiliated with a church to hire employees based on religion, even if they have a contract with the state.
House Ways and Means Committee barely approved the change on a 9-8 vote. The amended version of the bill was then forwarded to the full House on a 12-7 vote.
The contractors exempted from the non-discrimination requirement includes any school, educational or charitable religious institution owned or conducted by or affiliated with a church or religious institution. This goes back to the fundamental question of the constitutionality of public funding of churches and religious institutions. Both the Establishment Clause contained within the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Indiana Constitution's Bill of Rights impose restrictions on the use of public funds for religious purposes. The only way around the prohibition is if the funds being provided to churches and religious-affiliated organizations are being used in a manner that does not promote any religious or sectarian purposes. Turner wants to let churches and religious organizations have their cake and eat it too. That's got legal challenge written all over it. If you don't want any strings attached, then don't take the money. That's the price you pay for accepting public funding.

UPDATE: That didn't take long. House Speaker Brian Bosma is sending SB 367 back to committee to remove Turner's amendment.
“There was a lot of confusion about the purpose and intent of the amendment, so I thought it best for it to come out so it wasn’t a distraction,” he said.
Bosma said the measure was intended to address a state contracting issue with Indiana Wesleyan University, but that some people felt it went beyond that purpose.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese Files Suit Against Obama Administration

The Catholic Diocese for Fort-Wayne-South Bend has filed a lawsuit in federal district court against a proposed mandate by the Obama administration's Department of Health & Human Services that would require it to provide its employees, except under narrow circumstances, access to abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraceptive products and services at no cost to their employees as a violation of the church's religious freedom. A statement released by the church reads, in part:
This lawsuit is about an unprecedented attack by the federal government on one of America's most cherished freedoms: the freedom to practice one's religion without government interference. It is not about whether people have access to certain services; it is about whether the government may force religious institutions and individuals to provide and facilitate services which violate their religious beliefs.