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High court divided on O-Care birth-control mandate
« on: March 25, 2014, 01:03:32 PM »
http://thehill.com/blogs/regwatch/healthcare/201651-court-fractured-on-o-cares-birth-control

March 25, 2014, 12:33 pm
High court divided on O-Care birth-control mandate

By Ben Goad

The Supreme Court appeared sharply divided Tuesday over the legality of an ObamaCare mandate that requires employers to include birth-control in their employee health plans, leaving in limbo a key provision of the embattled healthcare law.

The case, ObamaCare’s second major test before the high court, pits the government against a pair of for-profit companies who argue their religious convictions should exempt them from the mandate requiring companies to offer their workers birth control at no cost.

The court’s liberal wing rushed to the government’s defense at the start of arguments Tuesday, saying a successful challenge to the mandate could pave the way for a flood of lawsuits from private firms claiming all manner of religious exemptions.

Justice Elena Kagan said companies could claim religious beliefs in arguing for exemptions from laws governing everything from child labor to sexual discrimination.

“If your argument was adopted, then you would see religious objections come out of the woodwork,” she said.

Conservatives on the court, meanwhile, appeared to back the case brought by Hobby Lobby, a chain of craft stores, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a cabinetmaker.

Justice Antonin Scalia bristled at the suggestion that the First Amendment’s free exercise clause does not apply to corporations – one of a handful of arguments offered by the government in defense of the mandate.

“There is not a single case that says a for-profit corporation can’t make a free religion claim,” he said.

The court is expected to issue a ruling on the case in June.

Roughly 300 chanting and sign-waving activists for women’s rights and religious freedom gathered at the steps of the court in advance of the high-stakes oral arguments.

“I want freedom, how about you,” shouted supporters of the argument, who cite the First Amendment and the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which provides that, “government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.”

Proponents of the provision say a ruling against them could result in reduced access to contraception for millions of American women.

“Hobby Lobby back away, birth control is here to stay,” the women’s rights activists chanted.

The scene was in stark contrast with the scorching hot day almost two years, when the court announced a 5-4 ruling in favor of law’s individual mandate.

On Tuesday, the crowd contended with a steady, wet snow and 32-degree temperatures.

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Online mystery-ak

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Re: High court divided on O-Care birth-control mandate
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2014, 01:18:10 PM »
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/supreme-court-women-hammer-birth-control-challengers

Female Supreme Court Justices Hammer Birth Control Challengers



SAHIL KAPUR – MARCH 25, 2014, 12:37 PM EDT2482

In a sharply divided Supreme Court, women led the charge Tuesday in aggressively questioning the challengers of the rule under Obamacare that for-profit employers' health plans cover contraceptives for female employees at no extra cost, which the suing business owners say violates their religious liberty.

The first salvo came from Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who swiftly jumped in to question the challengers' lawyer if any employer can get an exemption from a general law that they claim a religious objection to.

"There are many people who have religious objections to vaccinations," she told Paul Clement, who was representing Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, two businesses who sued for relief from the mandate on the basis of their Christian beliefs.

Clement responded that each case would have to be looked at individually in terms of whether law satisfies the strict scrutiny requirements under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

The most forceful was Justice Elena Kagan, who repeatedly asked aggressive questions throughout the 90-minute argument about the legal dangers of exempting certain entities from laws on the basis of religion.

"There are quite a number of medical treatments that religious groups object to," she said, positing that a ruling against the Obama administration could empower business owners to seek exemptions from laws about sex discrimination, family leave and the minimum wage.

"You'd see religious objectors come out of the woodwork," Kagan warned, arguing that it's problematic for judges to test the centrality of a belief to a religion or the sincerity of beliefs that are invoked in court.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also asked several deeply skeptical questions about the business owners' arguments and the implications of a ruling against the birth control mandate.

But the outcome was difficult to predict as conservative-leaning justices appeared broadly sympathetic to the arguments put forth by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito all set their targets on the administration, with tough questions, and mostly softballs to the challengers' lawyer. Justice Clarence Thomas, the most conservative member, did not speak, as is customary for him.

Anthony Kennedy asked more skeptical questions to U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who was defending the law for the government, than to Clement. He appeared unconvinced that the birth control mandate satisfied strict scrutiny under RFRA, arguing that the government's reasoning could let it force businesses to pay for abortions. But he also wondered aloud if the right of employers trumped the right of female employees who were guaranteed contraceptive services under the Affordable Care Act.

Outside the court, amid snow showers, women's health activists from Planned Parenthood and elsewhere held signs and chanted in support of the birth control rule.

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Re: High court divided on O-Care birth-control mandate
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2014, 02:05:19 PM »
I wouldn't put too much stock in trying to divine how the Court will go based on the questioning by the justices at oral argument.  For example, a justice who pursued the question of whether a ruling for Hobby Lobby would open the floodgates to all manner of claims to exemption by private firms may really be fishing for some assurances or reasons why this wouldn't happen and if satisfied may in fact be willing to rule in Hobby Lobby's favor.

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Re: High court divided on O-Care birth-control mandate
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2014, 02:20:05 PM »
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/03/25/early-reports-are-pointing-to-some-very-good-news-for-hobby-lobby-in-supreme-court-case/

Early Reports Are Pointing to Some Very Good News for Hobby Lobby in Supreme Court Contraception Case
Mar. 25, 2014 1:34pm    Billy Hallowell

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in the ongoing battle over the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate, with the majority of the justices reportedly expressing skepticism over the White House’s decision not to accommodate for-profit companies with religious qualms over the requirement.

The majority of the justices questioned, in particular, of the Obama administration’s contention that companies and corporations do not hold or retain religious rights in the eyes of the federal government, Politico reported.

Some justices wondered why the government wouldn’t be willing to offer waivers similar to those granted to religious nonprofits — faith-affiliated organizations that also stand firmly opposed to the contraceptive mandate.

Politico added that it seemed likely the court would reject the notion that businesses have absolutely no religious freedom rights.

Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a craft chain based in Oklahoma, and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., a cabinet-making company based in Pennsylvania, are both embroiled in an ongoing legal battle with the Obama administration. They were both at the center of Tuesday’s oral arguments.

The for-profit companies have consistently claimed that the Affordable Care Act’s provision requiring that they provide contraception or pay a fine violates owners’ religious rights.

The health care law mandates that any contraceptive approved by the Food and Drug Administration be covered free of charge to the patient. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga object to providing Plan B and other “intrauterine devices,” as they believe that they are a form of abortion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

During today’s arguments, Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked what would happen if companies are permitted to refuse contraception on religious grounds, wondering whether this would lead to refusals for coverage of vaccinations or blood transfusions, the Wall Street Journal reported.

And Justice Elena Kagan said that an exemption for these companies could also create other problems, particularly when it comes to the continuation of laws opposed to sex discrimination, child labor and minimum wage, among others.

“One religious group would opt out of this and one religious group would opt out of that, and everything would be piecemeal,” Kagan said. “Nothing would be uniform. Religious objectors would come out of the woodwork.”

Still, a number of outlets reported that the justices seemed to sway in support of the plaintiffs.

“Majority of #SCOTUS justices appear likely to rule firms have right to religious claims, but ruling on merits unclear,” Reuters tweeted this afternoon, though the Associated Press reported that the court “seems divided” on the issue.

The heart of the debate in Hobby Lobby’s case is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, a law that states that individual religious beliefs cannot be “substantially burdened” by the government unless there is a compelling interest on the part of the government, as CBS News reported.

But since Hobby Lobby is a corporation and not a person, there’s a debate here that extends well beyond the conversation about contraception. The court is being faced with the question of whether businesses owned by individuals who hold sincere religious views should be covered under the bounds of this law.

The central question: Should these companies who object be treated as “individuals?”

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Re: High court divided on O-Care birth-control mandate
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2014, 02:20:49 PM »
I wouldn't put too much stock in trying to divine how the Court will go based on the questioning by the justices at oral argument.  For example, a justice who pursued the question of whether a ruling for Hobby Lobby would open the floodgates to all manner of claims to exemption by private firms may really be fishing for some assurances or reasons why this wouldn't happen and if satisfied may in fact be willing to rule in Hobby Lobby's favor.

Exactly...does the ACA ring a bell with CJ Roberts!

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Re: High court divided on O-Care birth-control mandate
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2014, 02:25:32 PM »
Quote
“Majority of #SCOTUS justices appear likely to rule firms have right to religious claims, but ruling on merits unclear,” Reuters tweeted this afternoon, though the Associated Press reported that the court “seems divided” on the issue.

I'd be careful about that; remember what happened on the individual mandate issue.

Online mystery-ak

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Re: High court divided on O-Care birth-control mandate
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2014, 02:58:00 PM »
http://www.nationalreview.com/bench-memos/374160/quick-review-hobby-lobby-oral-argument-ed-whelan

 Quick Review of Hobby Lobby Oral Argument
By Ed Whelan
March 25, 2014 12:04 PM

Print
Text 

I didn’t attend this morning’s argument and will therefore reserve my own reading of the tea leaves until after I’ve reviewed the transcript. For what it’s worth, one person who did attend and who is very knowledgeable about the issues in the case (but who might suffer from an overly optimistic temperament) has given me his quick take. He sees a 6-3 victory for Hobby Lobby, with Kennedy and Breyer joining the conservatives on the bottom line. (Apparently, Breyer’s questions reflected his recognition that—as I discussed in this post—the accommodation that the Obama administration provided religious nonprofits is a less restrictive means—and that the HHS mandate therefore flunks RFRA.)

We shall see. I’d be very surprised and impressed if Breyer is willing to stand against the three women justices.

Update: Another well-informed observer offers a similar assessment. The argument “went very well” for Hobby Lobby. He thinks that Hobby Lobby may win on the threshold issues (corporate exercise of religion, substantial burden) by a 7-2 margin and will win on the strict-scrutiny test by 6-3 or maybe 5-4.

Further update: Lyle Denniston sees it as 5-4 one way or the other, with Kennedy as the decisive vote.

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Online mystery-ak

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Re: High court divided on O-Care birth-control mandate
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2014, 02:59:14 PM »

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Re: High court divided on O-Care birth-control mandate
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2014, 03:31:34 PM »
Next: Religious Freedom as justification for muslim's female genital mutilations, and Mormon's justification for polygamy.

The Mormons had to give up polygamy, as a condition of Utah statehood, in case anybody is interested.

IOW a single religion would NOT dictate civil laws in this country.

Offline Gazoo

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Re: High court divided on O-Care birth-control mandate
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2014, 03:40:00 PM »


How is it Ruthie looks more attractive compared to the other two in the photo? Am I just older now or did Ruthie get a facelift or something?
"The Tea Party has a right to feel cheated.

When does the Republican Party, put in the majority by the Tea Party, plan to honor its commitment to halt the growth of the Federal monolith and bring the budget back into balance"?

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Re: High court divided on O-Care birth-control mandate
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2014, 04:07:04 PM »
OR is Kagan and Sotomeyer that fugly they Ginsberg looks good?
"The Tea Party has a right to feel cheated.

When does the Republican Party, put in the majority by the Tea Party, plan to honor its commitment to halt the growth of the Federal monolith and bring the budget back into balance"?

Online mystery-ak

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Re: High court divided on O-Care birth-control mandate
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2014, 04:24:24 PM »
http://cnsnews.com/news/article/penny-starr/sotomayor-kagan-hobby-lobby-should-drop-insurance-pay-penalty-and-let


Sotomayor, Kagan: Hobby Lobby Should Drop Insurance, Pay Penalty and Let Employees Use Exchange
March 25, 2014 - 3:01 PM
By Penny Starr

(CNSNews.com) – During oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday which focused on whether the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act violates the free exercise of religion, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan suggested employers who have moral objections to birth control should not provide health care coverage for their employees.

“But isn't there another choice nobody talks about, which is paying the tax, which is a lot less than a penalty and a lot less than -- than the cost of health insurance at all?”

Sotomayor said during the presentation by attorney Paul Clement, who represents Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties, two companies that sued the federal government over the requirement that businesses provide health insurance plans that cover contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs.

“Those employers could choose not to give health insurance and pay not that high a penalty – not that high a tax,” Sotomayor said.

Clement said Hobby Lobby would pay more than $500 million per year in penalties, but Kagan disagreed.

“No, I don’t think that that’s the same thing, Mr. Clement,” Kagan said. “There’s one penalty that is if the employer continues to provide health insurance without this part of the coverage, but Hobby Lobby would choose not to provide health insurance at all.

“And in that case Hobby Lobby would pay $2,000 per employee, which is less that Hobby Lobby probably pays to provide insurance to its employees,” Kagan said. “So there is a choice here. It’s not even a penalty by – in the language of the statute. It’s a payment or a tax. There’s a choice.”

Kagan went on to say that other U.S. businesses are “voluntarily” dropping their health insurance coverage for employees.

“You know Hobby Lobby is paying something right now for the – for the coverage,” Kagan said. “It’s less than what Hobby Lobby is paying for the coverage. There are employers all over the United States that are doing this voluntarily.”

Chief Justice Roberts interjected that this was in opposition to what Hobby Lobby presented in its lawsuit.

“I thought – I thought that part of the religious commitment of the owners was to provide health care for its employees,” Roberts said and Clements agreed.

“Well, if they want to do that, they can just pay a greater salary and let the employees go in on the exchange,” Sotomayor said.

The court seemed divided along ideological lines, with liberal judges – including President Barack Obama’s appointed judges Kagan and Sotomayor – emphasizing the rights of employees to have free birth control as mandated by the law, while others focused on government infringement on religious liberty.

A decision in the case is expected this summer.

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Re: High court divided on O-Care birth-control mandate
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2014, 04:44:40 PM »
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/elena-kagan-antonin-scalia-birth-control-mandate

Kagan Throws Scalia's Own Religious Liberty Arguments Back In His Face

SAHIL KAPUR – MARCH 25, 2014, 3:45 PM

During oral arguments Tuesday about the validity of Obamacare's birth control mandate, Justice Elena Kagan cleverly invoked Justice Antonin Scalia's past warning that religious-based exceptions to neutral laws could lead to "anarchy."

"Your understanding of this law, your interpretation of it, would essentially subject the entire U.S. Code to the highest test in constitutional law, to a compelling interest standard," she told Paul Clement, the lawyer arguing against the mandate for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. "So another employer comes in and that employer says, I have a religious objection to sex discrimination laws; and then another employer comes in, I have a religious objection to minimum wage laws; and then another, family leave; and then another, child labor laws. And all of that is subject to the exact same test which you say is this unbelievably high test, the compelling interest standard with the least restrictive alternative."

Kagan's remarks might sound familiar to the legally-trained ear. In a 1990 majority opinion in Employment Division v. Smith, Scalia alluded to the same examples of what might happen if religious entities are permitted to claim exemptions from generally applicable laws. He warned that "[a]ny society adopting such a system would be courting anarchy."

"The rule respondents favor would open the prospect of constitutionally required religious exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind," Scalia wrote in the 6-3 opinion, "ranging from compulsory military service, to the payment of taxes, to health and safety regulation such as manslaughter and child neglect laws, compulsory vaccination laws, drug laws, and traffic laws; to social welfare legislation such as minimum wage laws, child labor laws, animal cruelty laws, environmental protection laws, and laws providing for equality of opportunity for the races."

Indeed, Clement picked up on the reference.

"If you look at that parade of horribles -- Social Security, minimum wage, discrimination laws, compelled vaccination -- every item on that list was included in Justice Scalia's opinion for the Court in Smith," he said.

The case in Smith brought by two men who lost their jobs for using peyote, which they said was part of a Native American ritual, and subsequently denied unemployment benefits by Oregon.

If Scalia had the final word, the owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood probably wouldn't have had much of a case against the birth control rule. But Congress responded to Scalia's opinion by passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993, which sets strict scrutiny for any law that substantially burdens a person's exercise of religion. That's the law that endangers the contraceptive mandate -- and it's the basis under which Scalia appeared to lean against the government's position during Tuesday's oral arguments.

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Offline LambChop

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Re: High court divided on O-Care birth-control mandate
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2014, 04:55:44 PM »
Next: Religious Freedom as justification for muslim's female genital mutilations, and Mormon's justification for polygamy.

The Mormons had to give up polygamy, as a condition of Utah statehood, in case anybody is interested.

IOW a single religion would NOT dictate civil laws in this country.


 :amen:


Has everyone forgotten this:

Oklahoma City: Group Unveils 7-Foot Satan Statue For Placement Next To Ten Commandments At State Capitol
Read more at http://freedomoutpost.com/2014/01/oklahoma-city-group-unveils-7-foot-satan-statue-for-placement-next-to-ten-commandments-at-state-capitol/#XQfsSbHkE3kHl3ZC.99


« Last Edit: March 25, 2014, 04:56:28 PM by LambChop »


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