Category Archives: SCOTUS

*UPDATED* Supreme Courts rules in favor of Hobby Lobby, religious freedom in ObamaCare based test

The Christian owners/operators of craft store chain retain right NOT to provide abortion drugs under ObamaCare

logo Hobby-Lobby-logoHobby-Lobby-logo Hobby Lobby has won in the US Supreme Court. In a closely hewed decision by Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that an organization run by devoutly religious people can extend their beliefs into their organization or corporation.

Alito also said the decision is limited to contraceptives under the health care law. “Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance-coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employer’s religious beliefs,” Alito said.

The owners of Hobby Lobby sued after the passage of ObamaCare because the government health care diktats required corporations to cover drugs that cause abortions. Hobby Lobby was already covering contraceptives in their health insurance and objected to the drugs which abort babies in contravention of their religious beliefs. The Obama Administration lawyers argued otherwise, of course. Alito tried to allay their fears that poor women would not get free contraceptives and abortion pills.

Alito also said the decision is limited to contraceptives under the health care law. “Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance-coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employer’s religious beliefs,” Alito said.

He suggested two ways the administration could ensure women get the contraception they want. It could simply pay for pregnancy prevention, he said.

But this case is shaping up to be another leftist lightening rod in the manner of Citizens United which recognized business owners had the right to give to political campaigns–just as non business owners and, more importantly, labor unions–could.  Sadly, four of the five justices ruled religious beliefs end the moment religious individuals open a business and run it in, in this case, a Biblical way. 

In a dissent she read aloud from the bench, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the decision “potentially sweeping” because it minimizes the government’s interest in uniform compliance with laws affecting the workplace. “And it discounts the disadvantages religion-based opt outs impose on others, in particular, employees who do not share their employer’s religious beliefs,” Ginsburg said.

The case was joined by 50 other companies, including Conestoga Woods, a Mennonite cabinet maker. 

*Update* Read decision here. 

It’s not funny, Chief Justice Roberts

Chief Justice John Roberts shares a laugh with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick
Chief Justice John Roberts shares a laugh with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick at a recent event

It’s not a penalty, it’s a tax. It’s not a tax, it’s a penalty. John Roberts’ ObamaCare decision draws laughs in the US Supreme Court on Monday. Hint: it’s not funny.

We all remember the 2012 ObamaCare decision in which Chief Justice John Roberts pulled a dipsy doodle and saved ObamaCare by rewriting the law to say the individual mandate was a tax. “Such legislation is within Congress’ power to tax.”

Roberts made sure the issue of the ObamaCare individual mandate penalties was argued as a tax even though the Obama Administration argued it was not. After initially believing the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional as it was written, Roberts contrived to turn it into a tax and –voila!–part of the president’s cornerstone program was upheld.

On the upside, the Chief Justice limited the Congress’ ability to abuse the Commerce Clause in the future, but Constitutional originalists may never forgive him for allowing ObamaCare’s forced insurance purchase to be viewed as a tax instead of penalty.

The subject came up in the oral arguments of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialities on Monday. ObamaCare covers abortion drugs. These companies did not want to have anything to do with them. The issue is should companies owned by sincerely religious people be forced to denounce their religious beliefs to accommodate a government program? Hobby Lobby’s insurance pays for all kinds of birth control but wanted nothing to do with abortion drugs.

On pages 23-24 of the oral arguments Hobby Lobby’s attorney, Paul Clement, was asked by the liberal (and female) faction of the court about why the company doesn’t just drop insurance altogether and pay the penalty! Isn’t that nice of them? They’re just looking out for the financial well being of Hobby Lobby and by simply paying the extortion, they get to retain their religious rights!

Some choice. Heads: the government wins, tails: the companies lose. 

11  JUSTICE KAGAN:  No, I don’t think that 
12 that’s the same thing, Mr. Clement.  There’s one penalty
13 that is if the employer continues to provide health
14 insurance without this part of the coverage, but Hobby
15 Lobby could choose not to provide health insurance at
16 all.  And in that case Hobby Lobby would pay $2,000 per
17 employee, which is less than Hobby Lobby probably pays
18 to provide insurance to its employees.
19  So there is a choice here.  It’s not even a
20 penalty by ­­ in the language of the statute.  It’s a
21 payment or a tax.  There’s a choice.  And so the
22 question is, why is there a substantial burden at all?
23  MR. CLEMENT:  Well, just to be clear, we
24 were talking about the same thing.  So the option, the
25 choice, is between paying a $475 million a year penalty
Alderson Reporting Company 23
Official ­ Subject to Final Review
1 and a $26 million a year penalty.  That’s what Hobby
2 Lobby faces.  So $2,000 per person ­­
3  JUSTICE KAGAN:  No, between paying $2,000
4 per employee per year if Hobby Lobby does not provide ­­
5  MR. CLEMENT:  That’s $26 million.
6  JUSTICE KAGAN:  You know, Hobby Lobby is
7 paying something right now for the ­­ for the coverage.
8 It’s less than what Hobby Lobby is paying for the
9 coverage.  There are employers all over the United
10 States that are doing this voluntarily because they
11 think that it’s less.
12  CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS:  I thought ­­ I
13 thought that part of the religious commitment of the
14 owners was to provide health care for its employees.
15  MR. CLEMENT:  That is true, Mr. Chief
16 Justice.  It is also true that this ­­
17  JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR:  Well, if they want to do
18 that, they can just pay a greater salary and let the
19 employees go in on the exchange.
20  MR. CLEMENT:  Exactly, which is, by the way,
21 why comparing the $2,000 penalty to the cost of the
22 health care is a false ­­ it’s a false comparison.
23  JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR:  It’s not called a
24 penalty.  It’s called a tax.  And it’s calibrated ­­ and
25 it’s calibrated ­­
Alderson Reporting Company 24
Official ­ Subject to Final Review
1  CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS:  She’s right about
2 that.
3  (Laughter.)
4  MR. CLEMENT:  And it has been treated for
5 some purposes as a penalty.  And I think for this
6 purposes, it certainly feels punitive.

It certainly does feel punitive. And that’s not funny.

*UPDATED* SCOTUS Hobby Lobby: How the media get their narratives

The Hobby Lobby case in the Supreme Court sends advocates to Twitter to tout narratives. Who picks them up?

How do media narratives get set? Good questions. Here’s just one way I saw via Twitter. Reporters and advocates for all sides send out their micro messages on the 140 character social site. But who picks up the talking points?

I was scanning Twitter about the Hobby Lobby case before the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) while waiting for the next batch of not so live blog updates come in. Here’s what I saw:
Planned Parenthood sets the tone:


And then ABC picks up the hint:


Originally there were four tweets I saw in this theme but, sadly, they got lost in the ether. Won’t happen again. 
Here’s a new one you should be watching out for:

*UPDATED* Hobby Lobby: The good, bad and ridiculous

While I’m watching the live blogs I’m bringing to you some of the more, ah, interesting reactions via Twitter.
The word “dominionist” is making a come back:


Here’s someone who never heard of Jesus:


How about “secularist”? No religion in the workplace, you dominionists, you!


Here we go with humans not being in corporations again (but, just remember, humans exist in organized unions):


https://twitter.com/BetsyinCalico/status/448510948798898176
Don’t you know if you’re an American with individual rights you can’t take them in the workplace? Sheesh!


Here’s a good point:


And another:


The bossy girls are back:


Mocking the business they’re trying to bring down:


I suppose they’ll cry when they read this tweet from a guy who thinks they’re smart enough to make their own decisions:


Intentionally missing the point that women were fully capable of buying their own abortions before ObamaCare:

“The Democrats” weigh in with their attempt to obscure the point and being ironic in the process (since they backed the government getting involved in a health care in the first place):


And you’re a racist. I mean a sexist. I mean a homophobe. No, you’re just a bigot. Must be if you’re a religious person, right?


And a little truth:


 

Hobby Lobby Reaction on Twitter

The Twitterverse weighs in before the arguments on the Hobby Lobby religious liberty case before the Supreme Court.
Washington State Senator Patty Murray thinks women’s right to birth control pills and abortion pills trumps your religious beliefs:


One of the law firms involved is Alliance Defending Freedom:


Senator Ted Cruz is with Hobby Lobby. The former Texas Attorney General has argued nine cases before the US Supreme Court:


Just some guy weighing in:
https://twitter.com/HarperEric/status/448478467651149824
Senator David Vitter checks in:

SCOTUS: Westboro Haters Upheld; Rules Did NOT Cause Emotional Distress to Father of Fallen Soldier

They’re despicable, ugly and gross and they have a right to protest. Now what we need to do is get them away from the funerals of our soldiers–far enough away–so they can grieve in peace without these disgusting opportunists there to using the funerals to sell their cult.

I agree with the court on this as a rights issue. I don’t like their message but they have the right.
**UPDATED But there’s plenty to wonder about regarding the narrow information the court used to arrive at its decision regarding whether the father of the fallen soldier, Al Snyder, was purposely being singled out by Westboro. The “epic” written by the Westboro folks online singling out Matthew and Al appeared after the funeral. This was not taken into consideration about Westboro’s singling out the Snyders in the original case so the Supremes couldn’t deal with it here. Alito profoundly disagreed says the case should have been remanded to sort through those issues.
The decision was 8-1 with Alito dissenting saying, “Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case,”
UPDATE: 
This is a tort case of intentional infliction of emotional distress case. They found that the Westboro nuts didn’t do anything extraordinary to single out Al Snyder. They mentioned him but in the totality of their signs etc they believed it wasn’t an extraordinary display against him.
They’re talking about it at the American Legion’s burn pit blog. burnpit.legion.org
Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

SCOTUS: Westboro Haters Upheld; Rules Did NOT Cause Emotional Distress to Father of Fallen Soldier

They’re despicable, ugly and gross and they have a right to protest. Now what we need to do is get them away from the funerals of our soldiers–far enough away–so they can grieve in peace without these disgusting opportunists there to using the funerals to sell their cult.

I agree with the court on this as a rights issue. I don’t like their message but they have the right.
**UPDATED But there’s plenty to wonder about regarding the narrow information the court used to arrive at its decision regarding whether the father of the fallen soldier, Al Snyder, was purposely being singled out by Westboro. The “epic” written by the Westboro folks online singling out Matthew and Al appeared after the funeral. This was not taken into consideration about Westboro’s singling out the Snyders in the original case so the Supremes couldn’t deal with it here. Alito profoundly disagreed says the case should have been remanded to sort through those issues.
The decision was 8-1 with Alito dissenting saying, “Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case,”
UPDATE: 
This is a tort case of intentional infliction of emotional distress case. They found that the Westboro nuts didn’t do anything extraordinary to single out Al Snyder. They mentioned him but in the totality of their signs etc they believed it wasn’t an extraordinary display against him.
They’re talking about it at the American Legion’s burn pit blog. burnpit.legion.org
Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com