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Medicine United States Politics

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Religious Objections To Contraception 1330

An anonymous reader writes In a legislative first, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that for-profit companies can, in essence, hold religious views. Given the Supreme Court's earlier decisions granting corporations the right to express political support through monetary donations, this ruling is not all that surprising. Its scope does not extend beyond family-owned companies where "there's no real difference between the business and its owners." It also only applies to the contraception mandate of the health care law. The justices indicated that contraceptive coverage can still be obtained through exceptions to the mandate that have already been introduced to accommodate religious nonprofits. Those exceptions, which authorize insurance companies to provide the coverage instead of the employers, are currently being challenged in lower courts. The "closely held" test is pretty meaningless, since the majority of U.S. corporations are closely held.
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U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Religious Objections To Contraception

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  • Re:A win for freedom (Score:5, Informative)

    by Eddi3 ( 1046882 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @08:11PM (#47355277) Homepage Journal
    Further, Hobby Lobby still provides coverage for more than a dozen kinds of birth control. Just not the ones that can induce abortion of an already fertilized fetus.
  • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @08:21PM (#47355381) Homepage Journal

    Chick-fil-A were attacked because they were openly bigoted.

  • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @08:46PM (#47355585) Journal

    Surely an atheist can believe that abortion is a murder and desire to have no part in it.

    Atheists aren't psychopaths who wouldn't care either way.

  • by schwit1 ( 797399 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @09:02PM (#47355737)

    Sotomayor is NOT a Catholic. No one is a member of a faith just because they call themselves a member.

    Every faith has its teachings or core beliefs. For Catholicism those teachings come from the Vatican. Striving to live those teachings makes you a Catholic. A core Catholic teaching is that human life begins at conception. She doesn't believe that abortion is wrong, so she is not Catholic.

  • by compro01 ( 777531 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @09:03PM (#47355745)

    We had it before the ACA's mandate. 85% of group health plans provided it. Non-profits in all 50 States and many local governments make it available to those who can't afford it. The cost is not prohibitive even for those without insurance who don't wish to avail themselves of the aforementioned options.

    You're assuming all birth control methods are created equal. They aren't.

    The pill is a comparatively poor method in terms of success rate (roughly 9%/year failure rate and needs to be taken religiously every day) compared to more recent methods, such as IUDs (0.2-0.8% failure rate, depending on type. Basically foolproof as they're insert-and-forget for 3+ years) and implants (0.05% (this is actually better than the success rate for tubal ligation), insert-and-forget for 4 years).

    The mandate expanded the state of things from "Oh, you're poor, so you get the failure-prone pill because it's cheap" to "Take your pick of any method, they're all covered", which is a good thing. Saddling people who can least afford a child with the most failure-prone method for preventing that is a recipe for disaster.

  • by dlt074 ( 548126 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @09:17PM (#47355867)

    "3. You are too honest to invent a church just to cheat someone out of health care"

    people not wanting to pay for someone else's health care is != to "just to cheat someone out of health care". when did it become acceptable to enslave people to the needs of others? i don't want to be beholden to your needs. i'm a free man and would like to just be left alone to live my life to the best of my ability. if you need help, ask nicely for it. stop using force to extract it from me at gun point. no matter how you spin it, you are forcing me to take care of your needs.

    grow up and take care of yourself.

  • by tranquilidad ( 1994300 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @09:17PM (#47355871)

    It covers the four contraceptives to which Hobby Lobby objected. Those four contraceptives may have the ability to prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus and, thus, Hobby Lobby's objection. Hobby Lobby had no objection to the other 16 contraceptives in the mandate and, in fact, had a long-standing practice of providing those contraceptives.

  • by compro01 ( 777531 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @09:29PM (#47355963)

    That's kind of the crux of the matter, isn't it? A month of generic birth control pills costs about $10/mo. Purchased in bulk, condoms are about $0.50/ea. Both are readily available at no cost from a variety of sources for those who can't afford them. Setting aside the heated political debate, it seems foolish to route these sorts of purchases through your insurance company, with inevitable overhead, rather than simply purchasing them yourself.

    Great! The people least able to afford a pregnancy can only get the least-effective forms of birth control! Awesome! That's definitely not a bad idea.

    Or we can offer them any method they want, including far more effective and foolproof ones (IUD, implant, etc.), all at the same cost, which is what the mandate is about.

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @09:31PM (#47355973) Journal

    put their religion before the constitution. Shocking.

    At least read a summary of the decision before opening your mouth and letting people know you didn't read.

    This was NOT a constitutional decision, it has nothing to do with the constitution on either side. The constitutional issue was already decided in the 1990 case of Employment Division v. Smith, in which is was decided that yes, the government can make laws that contradict religions.

    In response to that, congress passed the RFRA [] (which Clinton endorsed, incidentally). The law says that if there is a reasonable way to avoid impinging on someone else's religion, the government should do so. In this case, the court found that there are reasonable ways to avoid forcing people to do what they don't want (for example, the government could offer free contraception, or they could do with corporations what they've already done with non-profits).

    In short, it wasn't a constitutional issue at all. It was a reconciliation between two laws that were passed by congress. If congress wants to change the law, they are free to do so.

  • Re:We are doomed (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @09:31PM (#47355981) Homepage Journal

    Pregnancy: it takes two to happen, but it's always the woman's fault.

    And the resultant expense is always the man's responsibility.


  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @10:08PM (#47356259)

    Essentially, if your own skin isn't in the game (your personal assets are shielded from your failed company), it isn't "your" business anymore.

    Financially shielding yourself from company failure is one thing, and its also a myth to a degree. Losing your constitutionally protected right to speech because you are now part of an organization is something completely different.

    Regarding the myth of being shielded from company failure. Go start a corporation. Now try to get a company credit card or other line of credit, the bank will require a personal guarantee on that card or credit line. The closely held corporations (5 or fewer people) that this ruling applies to general have skin in the game.

    It takes a long and close working relationship before a bank will offer credit purely secured by company assets.

  • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @10:15PM (#47356311)

    I'm sure if you keep telling yourself that you think it will become true. Sorry, that isn't anywhere close to reality.

  • Re:Statistics. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Entrope ( 68843 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @10:27PM (#47356395) Homepage

    Health insurance companies have actuarial evidence just as strong as auto insurance companies do. The only real difference is that governments haven't (yet) told auto insurance companies that they must provide subsidies from some specific groups to others.

  • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @10:36PM (#47356489) Homepage

    Chick-fil-A were attacked because they were openly bigoted.

    Were there any documented cases of Chic-Fil-A refusing to serve someone because they were gay? Refusing to hire someone because they were gay? Attacking someone because they were gay?


    Since the guy you're actually asking seems to be uninterested in answering, I'll answer for you.

    The answers are "no", "no", and "no".

    What happened was that the president of Chik-Fil-A, Dan Cathy, expressed an opinion on same-sex marriage that was exactly what Barack Obama had expressed just a couple of years earlier and that HIllary Clinton had also expressed. Oddly, only one of these three people were harassed for their opinion.

    Oddly, it happens to be the one of the three with the least power to effect any change in regard to the subject matter at hand. But, he doesn't claim to be a "Democrat", which is an allegiance which absolves one from all responsibility and repercussions from their opinions.

  • by uncqual ( 836337 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @10:59PM (#47356625)

    I take this to mean you would have no problem with this ruling if instead of Hobby Lobby, the plaintiff had been a business that was not incorporated and whose owners, on religious grounds, objected to providing "morning after" contraceptive products to their employees?

    This belief is based, it appears, on the notion that corporations, unlike natural persons, don't have "rights". Is that correct?

    However, this case was not decided on Constitutional grounds (i.e., the Free Exercise clause had nothing to do with the case) so "Constitutional rights" have nothing to do with it. It was decided based on the terms of Federal statutory law - the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) which raised the bar with respect to the level of justification the Federal needs to intrude on a person's religious beliefs coupled with the Dictionary Act's well known definition of how all Federal legislation is to be interpreted.

    The RFRA refers to 'persons' without, as far as I can tell, any qualification to exclude corporations so the portion Dictionary Act which specifies

    In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, unless the context indicates otherwise—
    the words “person” and “whoever” include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals;

    applies and the therefore the protections in the RFRA apply to corporations as well.

    This is a simple question of legislative interpretation and there appears to be little room for debate. There is much yammering about the effect of the decision, but the court's should not, in a matter of statutory law, pay much attention to that and clearly should not override the legislators except in response to Constitutional issues or cases where there is ambiguity, conflict, or vagueness in the law which they must resolve because the legislative process did not.

    If it is the will of the people to neuter this opinion, it can be done the same way the RFRA and Dictionary Act were instituted and amended over time -- via the legislative process. If that doesn't happen, then in a democratic society we can safely assume that it is not the will of the governed to do so.

  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @11:52PM (#47356927)

    How does "free speech" translate into "depriving people of medical benefits"?

    No one claimed it does. Someone used the false meme from the citizens united decision that corporations are people. I respond to that. Apologies for not being clear.

    And NO this is a situation where a Corporation is treated as a person -- or a "group of people".

    Not really. This seems to be a situation where a law applies to both corporations and people. As other posters have pointed out the Dictionary Act states that legislation that applies to persons also applies to corporations and other organizations if this legislation does not define its scope, and since the Religious Freedom Restoration Act did not define any such scope it applies to corporations as well as persons.

    So its seems to boil down to whether a corporation can hold a religious belief. The hobby lobby decisions seems to say that closely held corporations (5 or fewer owners) where the owners share a common religious belief would count as a corporation holding such belief.

    If you incorporate -- for that benefit, you leave your provincial ideas behind.

    Apparently not if there are 5 or fewer owners who share the same belief. In most such cases this would basically be a family owned business.

  • by oursland ( 1898514 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @12:54AM (#47357287)
    At one point the Catholic church didn't exist, then suddenly it did.
  • by Yosho ( 135835 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @01:07AM (#47357367)

    What happened was that the president of Chik-Fil-A, Dan Cathy, expressed an opinion on same-sex marriage that was exactly what Barack Obama had expressed just a couple of years earlier and that HIllary Clinton had also expressed. Oddly, only one of these three people were harassed for their opinion.

    Wow, like leaving out details much?

    Just for reference, the problem isn't that Dan Cathy expressed an unpopular opinion. The problem is that Chik-fil-A's "charity" organization, the WinShape Foundation, has donated millions of dollars to anti-LGBT hate groups. Did Barack or Hillary do that?

  • by RoccamOccam ( 953524 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @10:41AM (#47360081)

    Hobby Lobby's owners find it religiously objectionable to provide health care to its female employees that includes birth control.

    Completely untrue. Hobby Lobby provides 16 different types of contraception to its employees.

    Here's their statement:
    "The Green family has no moral objection to the use of 16 of 20 preventive contraceptives required in the mandate, and Hobby Lobby will continue its longstanding practice of covering these preventive contraceptives for its employees. However, the Green family cannot provide or pay for four potentially life-threatening drugs and devices. These drugs include Plan B and Ella, the so-called morning-after pill and the week-after pill. Covering these drugs and devices would violate their deeply held religious belief that life begins at the moment of conception, when an egg is fertilized.

    How outrageous!

  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @01:01PM (#47361345) Homepage

    > You are mischaracterizing the Supreme Court decision Citizens United.

    Not at all. He's merely disagreeing with it. This is America. We get to disagree with Kings and Popes and idiots who have the gall to call themselves judges.

    There is no direct 1:1 person -> corporate pass through. The whole POINT of a corporation is to prevent that.

    What we have here are a legal fiction being granted MORE power than real people while still retaining all of the extra protections they get from not really being people.

  • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @06:56PM (#47364513) Homepage Journal

    put their religion before the constitution. Shocking.

    - yes, putting the religion of socialism before the Constitution is what has destroyed America.

    Constitutionally US Congress has no authority to dictate anything to business or individuals unless it is expressly stated in Article 1 Section 8. The actual problem is that SCOTUS has not struck down almost all laws that ever came out of Congress as it should have as unconstitutional, but instead it allowed wider and wider oppression via usurpation of powers by the government and destruction of the individual freedoms.

    The reality is that the religious argument shouldn't matter, because the only true argument here is the argument of freedom. Individuals must not be coerced by governments, they must not be forced by governments to accept compensation for their work from their employer in a way that government sees fit (any form of insurance or maternity leave or paid vacation for example) in lieu of what the individual and the business agree to on their own accord. Individual may want to be paid in gold for example and nothing else and may sign a contract with the employer to that effect and government doesn't (Constitutionally) have the authority to overwrite this contract.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas