The Obama administration’s initial, parsimonious exemption

This is a depressing story, which I didn’t know about – the role of liberal columnists in stoking the fires of rage about the “religious exemption” from the ACA birth control mandate. Patricia Miller at Religion Dispatches tells that story.

On the left, E.J. Dionne calls for a “broad public consultation with religious groups” on the issue to avoid another firestorm:

After first providing a far-too-narrow exemption from the contraception mandate for explicitly religious nonprofits, President Obama came up with an accommodation that provides birth control coverage through alternative means…. [Read more…]

Even if they worked for businesses that had religious objections

The NY Times reports on this new bill, which (of course) preserves all the exemptions Obama already gave away to the god-botherers.

Democrats in Congress said Tuesday that they had developed legislation to override the Supreme Court decision on contraceptives. The bill would ensure that women had access to insurance coverage for birth control even if they worked for businesses that had religious objections.

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Oh dear, did you hurt your hand?

The National Women’s Law Center has a great, fierce analysis of the biases of the Evil Five in the Hobby Lobby ruling on its blog. Summary: Y U ignore women, Evil Five?

The majority opinion in Hobby Lobby erases women from the picture altogether. In a decision that is squarely about women’s health and equality, the male justices in the majority refuse to acknowledge the centrality of women. And in evidencing greater concern for protecting corporations from discrimination than in protecting women from discrimination, the majority opinion creates a hierarchy of discrimination where women are at the bottom (if they even merit consideration at all).

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The most religious and most conservative first-world nation

Lisa Bloom explains lucidly in the Washington Post what is so radical about the Hobby Lobby ruling.

The U.S. is the most religious and most conservative first-world nation, and believers have tried to opt out of our laws for centuries. For the most part, courts haven’t allowed it. May Christian Scientists forego lifesaving medical treatment for their children? No. May Native Americans ingest illegal peyote as part of their religious ceremonies? No. May the Amish refuse to pay Social Security taxes that violate their sincere religious beliefs? No.

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Supreme pants on fire

Well, at least I have confirmation that I wasn’t exaggerating yesterday when I said Alito lied in the Hobby Lobby ruling. Dahlia Lithwick and Sonja West at Slate say the same thing. They say it with considerable heat and energy.

…moments before they adjourned for their summer recess, the justices proved they can act quite quickly and recklessly when it comes to violating the terms of a controversial opinion they handed down only days earlier. It’s as if the loaner car the court gave us in the Hobby Lobby ruling broke down mere blocks from the shop.


In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court ruled that it was a “substantial burden” on the religious freedoms of closely-held corporations for the government to require them to provide contraception as part of their employee health care plans. The court didn’t say that the government could never require a company to do something that violated its religious beliefs, but rather that the government had to use the “least restrictive alternative.” That means that if there is a slightly less burdensome way to implement the law, it needs to be used. To prove that the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate was not the “least restrictive alternative,” the court pointed to a workaround in the law for nonprofits: If there are religious objections to a medical treatment, third parties will provide coverage to the employees.

Yet in an unsigned emergency order granted Thursday evening, the very same court said that this very same workaround it had just praised was also unconstitutional, that this workaround also burdened the religious freedom of religious employers. Overnight, the cure has become the disease. Having explicitly promised that Hobby Lobby would go no further than Hobby Lobby, the court went back on its word, then skipped town for the summer.

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They can’t be trusted

Exactly. David Ropeik writes today July 5 at Psychology Today that the theocratic Supremes can’t be trusted, because they’re dishonest. Yes they are.

…more and more, trust in the most important part of that system, one of the basic foundations on which this great nation rests, is being eroded. The U.S. Supreme Court is supposed to be the final neutral arbiter of what is and what is not legal, but more and more the 5 person conservative majority on the court is undermining trust in the nation’s highest court, and ultimately the very fairness of how America works, by appearing to decide cases based on their personal ideology rather than an objective consideration of the law.

Just Thursday, and to little notice compared to the high profile ruling earlier in the week in the Hobby Lobby case, the court seemed to say that non-profit institutions have the right to impose their religious views on their employees, specifically in this case Christian opposition to contraception and abortion. (Read the ruling itself here.) There is one big and SCARY difference between this ruling and Hobby Lobby, and it raises serious questions about whether the conservative majority is honestly following the law, or dishonestly finding ways to impose their personal ideology on how America works.

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Requiring that we become complicit in evil

Let’s go back to February 2012 for a sample of the rhetoric used by the Catholic theocrats to demand special exemptions from ordinary secular laws. A Catholic priest at the top of Human Life International made a statement.

We at Human Life International stand with the Catholic bishops and a diverse group of organizations and individuals in rejecting the false compromise offered by the Obama administration in an apparent attempt to gain wider acceptance of the mandate that requires free coverage of contraception, sterilization, and abortion inducing drugs.

Having closely examined all available information on the compromise, we are appalled at the cynicism displayed by both its content and the means by which it was announced. The original unjust mandate required that conscientious objectors to this policy would be forced to pay for insurance that will cover morally abhorrent ‘care.’ [Read more…]

Oh, the part about limited scope? Just kidding.

Here’s a piece of news I missed, despite (I thought) paying close attention:

Less than a day after the United States Supreme Court issued its divisive ruling on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, it has already begun to toss aside the supposedly narrow interpretation of the decision. On Tuesday, the Supremes ordered lower courts to rehear any cases where companies had sought to deny coverage for any type of contraception, not just the specific types Hobby Lobby was opposed to.

I’m dumbfounded. They really are opening the door to letting godbotherers do everything they can to impede women’s access to contraception, including getting extra special gift-wrapped gold-plated exemptions from ordinary laws that apply to everyone else. [Read more…]

Never mind what the women think

Getting sick of Hobby Lobby? You know how it is – there are some subjects I’ll just keep poking at for days.

Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, has a post at Scotus blog. The NWLC filed an amicus brief in support of the government.

Taking as a given the companies’ sincere religious beliefs that certain forms of contraceptives cause abortions (even though scientifically and medically inaccurate as outlined here), the majority seriously errs by then also taking as a given the companies’ claim that the insurance requirement for their employees imposes a substantial burden.  According to the majority, the burden is substantial because the companies say it is.  The majority undertakes no legal analysis of this burden claim…

Which is the nature of religious claims, isn’t it, and part of what makes them so frustrating and so inappropriate to impose on other people. [Read more…]