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The Supreme Court is full up on Catholics, I think

Six of nine is too many, I think, especially when their religion is beginning to shape court decisions. Even the judge we’d hoped would be a little more progressive, Justice Sotomayor, bent over backwards to pander to weird Catholic views on contraception. It’s even worse than that: she granted an injunction to allow Catholic employers to not fill out a form stating that they were not providing coverage for contraception.

Late on New Year’s Eve, Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted a small number of religiously affiliated groups a temporary injunction from a provision in the Affordable Care Act that allows them not to cover contraception in their health care plans if they fill out a form that states that they want an exemption from the law for religious reasons. Go ahead and read that sentence again. These Catholic non-profits that wanted an exemption from covering their employees’ contraception needs—and got an exemption from covering their employees’ contraception needs—are now fighting the provision (that exempts them from covering their employees’ contraception needs) simply because they don’t want to have to fill out a form that states that they are exempt. Why? Because their employees need that form in order to get birth control directly from their insurers (which they need to do because their employers—these Catholic non-profits—are exempt, as they want to be). 

Those wicked people! Their bosses told them that they weren’t paying for their condoms, so it’s perfectly reasonable for the bosses to also dictate that they can’t go anywhere else to get support for contraception.

That church really is an evil and controlling organization, through and through.

Comments

  1. awakeinmo says

    This riles me.
    Whether or not I get pregnant is a health issue, and should fall under the category of “health” and not “religion.”
    Also, the precious Catholic dogma they are trying so hard to preserve has been violated by 98% of catholic women themselves*. So, yeah…precious dogma, right?
    If your own followers don’t toe the line on the dogma, how dare you try to make me do so?

    *2011 Guttmacher Institute study

  2. says

    The irony, that this injunction, by a career-minded female judge, is going to unfairly make it harder to be a career-minded female employee, leaves me numb. Because Catholic God?

  3. Rey Fox says

    “Mother Provincial Loraine Marie Maguire has to decide between two courses of action: (a) sign and submit a self-certification form, thereby violating her religious beliefs; or (b) refuse to sign the form and pay ruinous fines.”

    a) So allowing employees to pay for their own birth control is a violation of her religious beliefs. Rock solid proof that they absolutely want control over peoples’ sex lives.

    b) Render unto Caesar, fuckheads.

  4. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    How does this constitute “ben[ing] over backwards to pander to weird Catholic views on contraception”? If you click through to the MSNBC article you’ll see that it’s just a temporary injunction until the government responds. For now, it just means that for a couple of days nothing changes.

    If the courts eventually rule in these groups’ favor, then they deserve all the invective they’ll get here, but for now it seems premature.

    All this with the caveat that I’m not a legal mind, so it would be nice to hear from the lawyers in the crowd.

  5. says

    What a Maroon

    How does this constitute “ben[ing] over backwards to pander to weird Catholic views on contraception”?

    The injunction was granted, despite the patent absurdity of the plaintiff’s claims.

  6. cubist says

    Place your bets, people: How much of this bullshit can Catholic employers pull, before one of the people who are negatively affected by said bullshit snaps and just fucking kills their Catholic asswipe of an employer?

    [Promoting violence will get you banned. Knock it off. --pzm]

  7. says

    On the subject of Republican and/or religious objections to the Affordable Healthcare Act:

    […]when Republicans talk about the 5 million people left behind by the ACA, they’re exaggerating by a factor of 500.[…]

    If Republicans and religious Republicans want to argue about the provisions of the ACA, it would be good if they would use facts instead of exaggeration or misunderstandings to do so.

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/waxman-challenges-gop-cancellations

  8. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    Place your bets, people: How much of this bullshit can Catholic employers pull, before one of the people who are negatively affected by said bullshit snaps and just fucking kills their Catholic asswipe of an employer?

    Really? This shit is not okay.

  9. dianne says

    “Mother Provincial Loraine Marie Maguire has to decide between two courses of action: (a) sign and submit a self-certification form, thereby violating her religious beliefs; or (b) refuse to sign the form and pay ruinous fines.”

    Wait what? How is signing a form saying that they would not provide birth control coverage “violating her religious beliefs”? I thought Catholics were proud of their desires to torture and murder as many women as possible through forced pregnancy. How is signing a form to that effect a violation of their religious beliefs? Could they be just a little bit ashamed of their behavior after all?

  10. screechymonkey says

    What a Maroon@5:

    All this with the caveat that I’m not a legal mind, so it would be nice to hear from the lawyers in the crowd.

    I’m not sufficiently up to date on the case law in this area to express an opinion on the legal merits (I certainly have an opinion on the moral merits!), but I can say that we shouldn’t read too much into the grant of an injunction pending appeal. Often it’s just a matter of preserving the status quo while the appeal is heard on the merits.

  11. Randomfactor says

    Betcha the Obama Admin comes up with a proposal that THEY will file the paperwork on behalf of the exempt organizations certifying the status and enabling contraception coverage.

    And the church’ll kvetch about THAT, the pishers.

    Should be law that the employees of such nonprofits are eligible for Medicare coverage regardless of age. In fact, that should be the case for everyone in America.

  12. dianne says

    Betcha the Obama Admin comes up with a proposal that THEY will file the paperwork on behalf of the exempt organizations certifying the status and enabling contraception coverage.

    I kind of like this idea.

    Should be law that the employees of such nonprofits are eligible for Medicare coverage regardless of age.

    I like this idea even better.

    But know what I would like even better? Let’s just trash this whole system and cover EVERYBODY under Medicare.

  13. says

    Cross-posted from the Lounge:

    This is a follow up to my comment at #6 [in the Lounge thread]. That comment needs clarification.

    The decision applies only to the organizations in question and doesn’t affect the broader contraceptive coverage regulations in the Affordable Care Act, which have already gone into effect for millions of American women. But it may signal that the broader court is receptive to arguments that filling out a form for an employee to get birth control directly from an insurer is a substantial burden on religion.

    Many are no doubt familiar with the pending case involving Hobby Lobby, in which private business owners are claiming that corporations are people with religious beliefs, capable of spiritual objections to workers’ contraception access. While that case has already arrived at the Supreme Court, the news on New Year’s Eve is entirely separate – this is a different matter altogether.

    In fact, though both cases deal with birth control, they’re not even seeking the same remedy. In the Hobby Lobby controversy, there are private-sector enterprises trying to strike down the provision in the federal health care law related to contraception. In this other case, there are religious non-profit groups seeking an exemption from the law. […]

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/the-high-courts-other-birth-control-case

  14. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    Wow. That has genuinely made me fucking furious. How on Earth can any judge agree to that? I can see them agreeing to some stupid religious exemption, even if I completely disagree with it, but how can they agree that employees of Catholic organisations not only shouldn’t be able to get contraception from their employers, despite the fact every other fucking employer has to provide it, but also can’t get contraception from anywhere else? Since that is in essence what she’s done. That’s disgusting. Why the fuck are they allowing companies that sort of exemption? *rageflail*

  15. Rey Fox says

    If they could monitor their employees’ wallets to make sure none of the money they earn from their Catholic employers went to birth control, they would do it.

  16. billhaines says

    All things being (roughly) equal, the Court would be four Protestant Christians (two ‘mainline’ and two ‘evangelical’), two Catholic Christians, two non-religious and one non-Christian religious, with six being white, two hispanic, one black and five female, four male. I have no confidence at all, that the Court will look anything like the population of the nation, within my lifetime.

  17. zenlike says

    10, dianne

    Wait what? How is signing a form saying that they would not provide birth control coverage “violating her religious beliefs”?

    Well, their religious belief is that they should be able to control other people’s (sex) lives, therefore, removing that ability is violating their rights.

    That’s what they seem to believe anyway…

  18. Scr... Archivist says

    dianne @10,

    How is signing a form saying that they would not provide birth control coverage “violating her religious beliefs”?

    According to the Slate piece linked to by PZ, these groups are already exempt from providing contraceptive insurance to their employees. So, the employees that want it have to get it for themselves. If they want to go through their health insurance provider, these employees would need their boss to sign a little piece of paper first. If the boss refuses, then the employee can’t use insurance to cover the cost. I guess they would have to pay out of pocket of they wanted it that badly.

    If it costs more it would be a disincentive to buy it. But the most important thing is that the employer can remain innocent of abetting a “grave sin”.

    Regardless of the theological window-dressing, their political beliefs are clearly that they should control the sexual lives of women. Praise be unto the wisdom of Ambrogio Ratti (in 1930) and Giovanni Montini (in 1968).

  19. Pierce R. Butler says

    But look on the bright side: this Sunday, at least, Sonia Sotomayor will be allowed to eat a holy cracker!

  20. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    Dalillama,

    The injunction was granted, despite the patent absurdity of the plaintiff’s claims.

    But it’s just a temporary injunction, which keeps the status quo until the appeal can be heard (see Screechmonkey’s comment 11).

    I’m not saying that the outrage is unearned, just that for now it’s misdirected–Sotomayor is just doing her job (of course if she votes in favor of the appeal down the line, that’s a different story).

  21. says

    What a Maroon:

    Sotomayor is just doing her job

    No, she isn’t. She might have been doing her ‘job’ as a good Catholic, however, she wasn’t doing her job as a justice. The injunction should not have been granted.

  22. tsig says

    How many different brands of law will we have in America. A brand for Catholics, one for Protestants and one for Muslims (the dreaded Sharia) ect., ect., ect.,.

  23. says

    And for an example, What a Maroon, look at the recent granting of same sex marriage in Utah. Multiple temporary injunctions were applied, to stop marriages, and all were denied, making them all wait on an appeal.

  24. says

    K_machine:

    kkkookkky kkkonspiracy thinking ITT

    Gee, there’s just so much substance in your comment, it’s difficult to know where to start. Oh, I know – you’re an idiot. Religious employers going to any length to deny their employees insurance covered contraception, yes, that’s totes a conspiracy.

  25. futurechemist says

    In order to grant a stay or an injunction, the judge has to look at a variety of factors, including the likelihood of success on appeals and the balance of harms between each party if the judgement and/or law goes into effect. The Supreme Court already decided to hear the Hobby Lobby case, so a final decision will be handed down sometime before June 2013. Considering that the most recent court decision (10th circuit) ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, the company has shown a reasonable chance of winning at the Supreme Court. And by delaying the provision for 6 months, the status quo is being maintained, rather than providing the extra coverage for 6 months and yanking it away. While I hope the Supreme Court rules against Hobby Lobby, this seems like a prudent course of action.

    It’s also totally different than the same sex marriage case out of Utah. There, the state of Utah didn’t ask for a stay of the decision until after it had already gone into effect. The status quo had changed to allow same-sex couples to marry, which meant that rather than asking a higher court to prolong the status quo, Utah was asking the Supreme Court to revert to a different status quo (which Sotomayor might still do after briefing on Friday). Also, Utah had lost at the prior level, weakening their position.

  26. unclefrogy says

    it does seem dumb but I aint a lawyer nor can I predict the future which I understand for this court order is tomorrow friday.
    you know if we keep trying to repair this law to correct “flaws” we may end with a closer approximation of universal coverage and singe payer.
    we just have to keep pushing
    I can dream can’t I
    uncle frogy

  27. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    Caine, futurechemist,

    IANAL, so I’ll just revert to my usual state here: shut up and learn.

    Thanks, informative as always.

  28. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Hmm, Amanda Marcotte says in the original article the same thing as What a Maroon.

    It’s important not to read too much in Sotomayor’s willingness to grant these groups a temporary injunction from signing a piece of paper. The injunction is only to allow the status quo to continue until the case gets heard in court. That won’t be great for the employees of these groups, who will have to continue without employer-provided contraception coverage and will also be unable to get coverage directly from their insurance companies, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the court is siding with the Sisters on this one.

    (bolding mine)
    I’m interpreting the bolded part to mean we shouldn’t take her decision as some definite allowance for those groups not to sign this, just a temporary thing. Probably meant for not legally-minded readers who won’t know what an injunction is.

    Of course, the sentence can also be read as minimizing the fucking bullshit decision Sotomayor has made (as later confirmed in the third sentence).

    In short: wtf, Maroon and Amanda Marcotte?

  29. says

    Beatrice:

    In short: wtf, Maroon and Amanda Marcotte?

    Hey, it’s just a buncha sluts women, who cares? After all, it’s a mere inconvience, which won’t be great for them, but I’m absolutely sure none of those women are on certain contraception to regulate serious health problems, and of course none of them will be raped, so what’s the big deal? Certainly they could just be chaste for once, amirite?

  30. DonDueed says

    The real irony here is that the actions of the Catholic organizations (which object to paying indirectly for their employees’ contaceptives) have the effect of forcing their employees to pay for contraception out of their own pockets — with money earned from, and paid to them directly by, the very same Catholic organizations.

  31. says

    DonDueed:

    The real irony here is that the actions of the Catholic organizations (which object to paying indirectly for their employees’ contaceptives) have the effect of forcing their employees to pay for contraception out of their own pockets — with money earned from, and paid to them directly by, the very same Catholic organizations.

    Indeed. However, those Catholic / Religious run businesses aren’t stupid. Contraception is expensive, and most people would have a very difficult time paying for it out of pocket, which those running the businesses are fully aware of – their goal is to prevent people from using contraception, controlling them.

  32. hoku says

    Hey, it’s just a buncha sluts women, who cares?

    No one is making that argument here. People are just stating how the legal system works.

    Do I think the Justice was right? No. Do I think that people religious feelings get to much deference in our court system? Hell yes. Does this mean that the decision to grant a preliminary motion is an outrage? No, its just the way the system works.

    It is weird how many Catholics are on the Supreme Court though.

  33. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    hoku,

    I don’t understand your argument, “it’s just the way the system works”.
    You state yourself that you believe it was a bad decision and that religion is being given a privileged treatment in court -> just because that’s the way the system works doesn’t make it right.

  34. hoku says

    Beatrice,

    I’m just saying granting an injunction is a mechanical function of our system. The rules say that if x then y. In this case we have x, so y. I’m not convinced that it was the right call, but I’m not privy to all the documents, and also not going to question a supreme court judge who’s otherwise been pretty good.

    I don’t think this specific decision is a case of religion getting preferential treatment. I do think the case as a whole is. I loathe how we’ve chosen to move past the standard of “broadly applied and generally applicable”. I also get a sense that if this case series goes the way I fear it will, it’s going to quickly turn into another “wait this applies to muslims too?” situation. In that case, it’ll probably get reversed.

  35. hoku says

    Caine,

    please show me where either Marcotte or Maroon make that argument. The closest thing I can find is Marcotte saying that the decision sucks, but is only temporary and not a sign of how the court will rule.

  36. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Uh, guys? Caine’s comment @32 was sarcasm.

    So obvious even I could see it.

  37. lopsided says

    What a fucking load of bullshit. SCOTUS is so corrupted by partisanship and religion I don’t expect much out of them, but this is ridiculous.

    Does anyone seriously believe this crowd won’t overturn Roe v. Wade given the opportunity? It’s only a question of whether it’ll be 5-4 or 6-3.

  38. David Marjanović says

    ect., ect., ect.,.

    Etc. = et cetera = “and the remaining ones” (neuter plural, which was often used for collective “stuff”).

  39. says

    David:

    Etc. = et cetera = “and the remaining ones” (neuter plural, which was often used for collective “stuff”).

    Heh. Every time I see someone use ‘ect.’, I think ectoplasm. I know, it’s weird.

  40. screechymonkey says

    lopsided@43:

    Does anyone seriously believe this crowd won’t overturn Roe v. Wade given the opportunity? It’s only a question of whether it’ll be 5-4 or 6-3.

    I get the sense that Justice Kennedy doesn’t want to go down in history as the swing vote for overturning Roe.

    Sadly, though, I suspect he will be just fine with supplying the 5th vote to do everything else the pro-life movement wants. So sure, the government still won’t be able to ban all abortions — but it will be able to require that all abortion clinics contain an operating room, hallways paved with gold bricks, and a unicorn stable, and women can be forced to ten hours of pro-life YouTube videos and to sign an oath that they’re ok with being a baby-murdering monster in order to exercise that right to an abortion.

    Remember everyone, government regulation is an evil communist infringement on OUR FREEDOMS… except when talking about abortion, then it’s a vital safeguard to prevent an epidemic of Kermit Gosnells!

  41. chrisv says

    #7 “Place your bets, people: How much of this bullshit can Catholic employers pull, before one of the people who are negatively affected by said bullshit snaps and just fucking kills their Catholic asswipe of an employer? Really? This shit is not okay.” Now tell this to those who kill abortion doctors. THEY REALLY do these kinds of things. Cubist is just venting.

  42. says

    chrisv @ 47, your post was something of a mess. To prevent that, please quote people, using <blockquote>Place Text Here</blockquote>, giving you:

    Place Text Here

    Now tell this to those who kill abortion doctors. THEY REALLY do these kinds of things. Cubist is just venting.

    We’re all aware of what extremists are capable of doing. That has absolutely nothing to do with what Cubist said, and venting or not, promoting violence is against the commenting rules here. If you wish to comment further on this matter, please click over to Thunderdome and continue on there.

  43. ck says

    While I’m sure this is the “correct” decision (i.e. that particular bell can’t be “unrung”), it certainly isn’t the right one. Let’s just hope the Church gets stomped on their appeal.

  44. Anri says

    Hoku @ 38:

    I don’t think this specific decision is a case of religion getting preferential treatment

    Hmm.
    If, as has been argued, this is just “preserving the status quo, pending judgement”, and the status quo grants preferential treatment for certain employers based on religious beliefs, how does that follow?

    That sounds like arguing that a ruling allowing (say for example) a poll tax “pending judgement” can’t be considered racist if the poll tax is already in place. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding.

  45. David Marjanović says

    Sadly, though, I suspect he will be just fine with supplying the 5th vote to do everything else the pro-life movement wants. So sure, the government still won’t be able to ban all abortions — but it will be able to require that all abortion clinics contain an operating room, hallways paved with gold bricks, and a unicorn stable, and women can be forced to ten hours of pro-life YouTube videos and to sign an oath that they’re ok with being a baby-murdering monster in order to exercise that right to an abortion.

    Clearly that’s not tough enough. At the first opportunity the above will be amended to force women to read all the comments to those YouTube videos, too. However long it takes.

  46. dianne says

    Remember everyone, government regulation is an evil communist infringement on OUR FREEDOMS… except when talking about abortion, then it’s a vital safeguard to prevent an epidemic of Kermit Gosnells!

    Off topic, but the best way to prevent more Gosnells would be to make abortion readily available and cheap or free. No woman would go to Gosnell’s clinic if she had a choice in the matter. The “pro-life” movement is ensuring more Gosnells, not fewer.

  47. David Wilford says

    The Obama administration responds to Justice Sotomayor’s request:

    The Obama administration on Friday asked the Supreme Court not to extend injunctive relief from Obamacare’s birth control mandate to religious nonprofits, arguing that the organizations are already exempt from the coverage requirement and have “no legal basis” to sue.

    The administration’s response came after Sonia Sotomayor, the justice with jurisdiction, issued an order on New Year’s Eve to temporarily halt its obligations under the mandate for nuns in Colorado and Little Sisters of the Poor, a Roman Catholic group.

    “Applicants have no legal basis to challenge the self-certification requirement or to complain that it involves them in the process of providing contraceptive coverage,” the Justice Department said in its filing. “As both of the lower courts recognized, this case involves a church plan that is exempt from regulation under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act… Employer-applicants’ third-party administrator therefore will be under no legal obligation to provide the coverage after applicants certify that they object to providing it.”

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/obama-doj-birth-control-filing-sonia-sotomayor

  48. says

    Attorneys for the Obama administration will make their case to the Supreme Court today, responding to a temporary injunction over contraception through the Affordable Care Act.[…]

    The nuns say that minor requirement [paperwork] infringes on religious exercise in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

    Under that law, the federal government may not “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless the government demonstrates that the burden is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling interest. […] Let’s say you’re a woman who works at a religiously affiliated university and you want to take birth control bills, which your bosses consider too sinful to pay for. Under the Affordable Care Act, houses of worship are already exempt, but employers like yours have an alternate route: they’ll offer you a health care plan that doesn’t cover the medication, but the university’s insurance company will then create a new, separate policy that will cover your contraception.

    You still get the pills, the preventive care is still available with no co-pay, and your employer no longer worries about subsidizing your health care choices that it might find religiously offensive.

    All your bosses have to do is fill out the paperwork, noting the religious objection[…]

    The sooner Justice Sonia Sotomayor lifts this injunction, the better.

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/religious-objection-paperwork

  49. zenlike says

    52, dianne

    The “pro-life” movement is ensuring more Gosnells, not fewer.

    That’s a feature, not a bug.