Judges split over birth control coverage and religious liberty

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The growing legal dispute over paying for contraception is the latest in a long-running battle over how to weigh claims involving matters of faith.

Judges across the country are increasingly split over whether private employers and their companies can cite their religious beliefs as a valid reason for denying birth control coverage to their employees.

Earlier this month the Obama administration proposed a compromise for some nonprofit religious organizations, such as Catholic hospitals and colleges, that would allow them to avoid paying directly for such insurance. But the administration refused to consider a similar exemption for private, for-profit employers.

The growing legal dispute over paying for birth control is the latest in a long-running battle over how to weigh claims of religious liberty, one that has sometimes flipped the usual conservative-liberal divide.

Lawyers for the Obama administration rely heavily on an opinion by conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia that rejected the notion that the Constitution’s protection for the “free exercise of religion” gives believers an exemption from some laws.

“The free exercise of religion means, first and foremost, the right to believe and profess whatever religious doctrine one desires,” Scalia wrote in a 1990 case in which two Native Americans claimed a right to use peyote in a religious ceremony. It is not, he said, “a private right to ignore generally applicable laws.”

“Any society would be courting anarchy,” Scalia continued, if people were free to ignore a “valid and neutral law … on the ground that [it] prescribes conduct that his religion proscribes.”

Written By: David G. Savage
continue to source article at articles.latimes.com

8 COMMENTS

  1. Any further compromise by the Obama administration on this issue would almost certainly result in private companies and employers who have purely fiscal reasons for not wanting to pay for birth control coverage suddenly claiming their objections are based on religious conviction.

    For the price of a WWJD scause, an employer with no faith at all and who doesn’t even hate women and regard sexuality as an abomination, could deny his employees birth control coverage.

  2. I wonder if there’s a homeopathic contraceptive. If there is, do you think the NHS will provide for it, or do they just allow homeopathic treatments for trivial ailments like high blood pressure?

    In reply to #3 by Stafford Gordon:

    This is one of those instances when I’m glad that my family and I don’t live in America.

  3. This will get worked out in the U.S. Supreme Court later this year. It is an almost sure loss for the religious side for the reason stated by Justice Scilia. If the law required the companies to actually hand out the contraceptives, they would have a chance, but being required to pay a monetary employee benefit, that then buys coverage, is no different from the requirement to pay minimum wage. Companies don’t get to use the Bible’s sanction of slavery to get out of paying at least minimum wage.

  4. I think Scalia and Co. will have a stroke trying to undo that logic for this. It’ll probably be a 5-4 (6-3 outside) decision against the religious argument with a poorly reasoned dissenting opinion. I would prefer 9-0 (or 8-1) for the standard it would set.

    In reply to #5 by Quine:

    This will get worked out in the U.S. Supreme Court later this year. It is an almost sure loss for the religious side for the reason stated by Justice Scilia. If the law required the companies to actually hand out the contraceptives, they would have a chance, but being required to pay a monetary employee benefit, that then buys coverage, is no different from the requirement to pay minimum wage. Companies don’t get to use the Bible’s sanction of slavery to get out of paying at least minimum wage.

  5. Relib plus good minifree teeper victory over obamunism!

    (“Religious Liberty” victoriously brought to you by the insurgent T.E.A. party’s Ministry of Freedom defeat of the unremitting and implacable oppression of the people’s enemy communist socialist Kenyan Obama!)

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