Obama vs. the Nuns

Yes, this is pretty ridiculous.

  1. As noted, it’s not the government that’s fighting this issue. It’s the nuns who filed the lawsuit. So if you’re upset somebody took this to court, blame the side that did it.
  2. Just because a person or organization has a religious belief doesn’t give them a power to ignore the law. I can’t break the speed limit and claim God wanted me to drive fast.
  3. The program has a process for people who wish to have a religious exemption.
  4. You seem to be simultaneously complaining that the third-party administrator is being forced to do something and allowed to not do it. And you think both of these things are completely wrong and are somehow the Obama administration’s fault.

And if it’s a Jehovah’s Witnesses group that claims their employees getting blood transfusions is a violation? Should Christian Scientists be exempt from insurance requirements altogether?

What about the religious freedom of those they employ?

If they don’t have a problem with contraception, wouldn’t the denial of that coverage be a violation of their rights?

Or do the rights of the employer trump the rights of the employee?

So… forgive me if this suggestion has already been raised (or if it’s much stupider than I think it is), but in cases like this where the organization refuses to cooperate, why can’t someone just send them a certified letter asking whether they consent to provide contraceptive coverage – if “yes,” respond to this letter by [arbitrary deadline]; if the deadline expires, it’s assumed to be a “no”?

As far as I can tell, an Orthodox Jewish group would have no problem at all with gentile employees eating pork.

As for not giving reasons, do you mean on the form or during a trial? Back in the draft days, when a conscientious objector wished to be excluded from being drafted for religious reasons, do you think it would be improper to ask him about his beliefs?
Any religious group which does missionary work can hardly complain about being asked about their beliefs.

Well, then I can see why you would find this ridiculous. But I hope you understand that you have an extremely radical view of free exercise that is not shared by the courts or the vast majority of your countrymen.

No. The right to free religious expression is in the Constitution. There is no right to insurance that covers birth control in the Constitution.

That said, any employee of any organization who wants birth control can simply buy it at any drug store or big box store. In the extremely unlikely event that an employee can’t afford it, it’s also available for free from countless sources.

I really don’t see the requirement to offer health care with contraception coverage to be against anyone’s religious freedoms (certainly not their Constitutional freedoms). The nuns are allowed to discourage the use of contraception under the current law. Nobody is required to take contraception. They’re just required to provide a health insurance policy that would pay for it.

Since the whole premise of the new Obamacare law is to create one giant pool of coverage so that people who don’t use health care are subsidizing those who do… well, it seems like it’s entirely within the spirit of both laws.

But the Obamacare mandate was ruled constitutional. So one could say there is a constitutional basis for requiring every American to have healthcare … and there are minimums in the law that must be met.

It would seem to me that any employer who is incapable of meeting the requirement to cover every employee with the required minimum insurance—regardless of reason—should simply not provide healthcare coverage at all and therefore allow their employees to purchase their healthcare on the exchange.

Their religion commands them to neither use, nor procure, nor instruct or cause others to use, artificial barrier methods of contraception.

In order to comply with the law, they are being asked to sign a piece of paper that has the legal effect of instructing or causing others to use artificial barrier methods of contraception. They are asked to “deputize a third party to sin on their behalf,” as a filed brief put it – why would being required to deputize someone else to sin on your behalf be anything but a religious burden?

The RFRA requires that when any law burdens on religious exercise, the government must justify two things: that the burden furthers a compelling governmental interest; and that the method being used is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

Um… huh?


The Supreme Court ruled it was within Congress’ taxation powers to enact. Is that what you mean?

So far as i am aware, the Court has not expressed an opinion on the merits of Obamacare as far as its interactions with the RFRA – except, of course, for agreeing with the Little Sisters of the Poor and issuing a stay.

Honestly, ITR Champion, do you think anyone believes anything you say on this topic anymore? It seems as though every thread you start lately is concerning ACH. I don’t even post on these threads but I read them and I never have any faith you are telling the whole truth.

This is not an attempt to insult you! This is to tell you that clearly you are not winning the war you think you are. I don’t think any lurker believes you are arguing in good faith.

Frankly you seem obsessed to prove that ACH is the devil spawn. Unfortunately, I feel you are having the opposite effect…people are trusting your word less and thus feeling like ACH might not be so bad.

You have lost your credibility on this issue, I am afraid. Just my two cents.

Also, about this issue: freedom of religion should mean freedom from religion, too. These nuns refuse to supply birth control, fine. But they also want to be refused from the onerous task of signing a piece of paper so people can get birth control. Birth control is for good Christian wives, too, who don’t want to be baby making machines all their lives. It is not an inherent evil for employees to simply get some.

So it seems you argue that the first prong of the RFRA – the “compelling government interest” is met. OK, I agree, at least for the purposes of argument here.

What about the second part – the “least restrictive means?”

You’re talking about the spirit of the laws – I’m talking about the actual language of 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb-1(b).

I do not find it ridiculous that the nuns took the case to court. I find the administration’s reasoning to be ridiculous, and I find it ridiculous that they’d say that the Little Sisters must sign a piece of paper saying one thing while simultaneously arguing that the opposite thing will be true.

Perhaps I do. There are dozens of lawsuits winding their way through the courts that are similar to this one. In most of those cases, the judges have issued preliminary injunctions siding against the Obama Administration. Of course such an injunction is different from an actual ruling, but it does suggest that the judicial branch doesn’t view the Administration’s argument as a slam dunk.

But aren’t the nuns allowed to believe that that it IS an inherent evil?

Bricker: As I understand it, in this case the nuns opting out will not cause the TPA to pay for contraception. That’s the whole point of the government’s brief, and what distinguishes them from, say, Notre Dame’s challenge. That aside, I think you’re probably right that the real meat of the RFRA issue is in the balancing stage: whether this is the least restrictive method (since courts find much more trivial things to be compelling interests). (That is also the main reason that ITR Champion’s view of free exercise is so radical, as it would eliminate that aspect.)

But I’m curious if you think, as a policy or moral matter apart from what RFRA actually requires, that it makes sense to include within the scope of religious freedom this kind of sin of complicity. Suppose I am a conscientious objector to the draft. My opting out directly causes one additional person to be drafted, no? Does that make even a draft that has a CO provision a violation of religious freedom of Quakers and others?

Yes. The Little Sisters’ objections are rooted in the notion that signing the form deputizes Christian Brothers to act on their behalf and provide contraception coverage. The mere fact that they believe Christian Brothers will not do so is not relevant to the issue: by signing the form, they are triggering a request to sin. Requesting another to sin is wrong, according to them, even if you are confident that the other will not hearken to your request.

Apart from what the RFRA requires, no. I’d say that under Employment Division v. Smith (and common-sense policy independent of legal context) this is a de minimis sort of complaint for a secular society.

But the RFRA exists, and mandates a level of scrutiny that should save the Little Sisters.

Fair enough. I suppose there’s really no level of indirectness or non-injury that would remove standing when the doctrine is that any sincere belief about sin creates a category of conduct protected from intrusion unless the balancing test is met. But, AFAIK, that doctrine is a consequence of Sherbert-era precedent interpreting “substantial burden” rather than the text of RFRA. So I’m not sure they will succeed on that prong.

Why isn’t an opt-out the least restrictive way to enforce the contraceptive mandate? (If you’ve analyzed this elsewhere, forgive me. I haven’t followed this case much.)

I said, “the Obamacare mandate was ruled constitutional.”

I did not say, “the supreme court ruled on the merits of Obamacare as far as its interactions with the RFRA.”

Was that unclear?

So these nuns don’t want to pay for things that violate their beliefs. OK.

Does this mean that Catholics can opt out of paying the taxes that pay for capital punishment and Quakers can opt out of paying the taxes that pay for war?

If I’m being flagrantly obnoxious by suggesting these things, it’s just par for the course in this thread.