Tag Archives: Hobby Lobby

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:

Religious Liberty versus ObamaCare: Hobby Lobby in SCOTUS today

When ObamaCare passed religious organizations and companies with run by people of faith complained they would be forced to cover abortion drugs and contraception medicines under the state’s insurance mandate. 

Today’s oral arguments are from the companies compelled by ObamaCare to offer insurance coverage of abortion and contraceptive drugs. They include Hobby Lobby company, Conestoga Woods

From SCOTUSBLOG: Issue: Whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000bb et seq., which provides that the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest, allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners.

Among the organizations writing amicus briefs is the Becket Fund which depicts the case this way:

Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, to be argued at the Supreme Court March 25, 2014, will determine whether the government has the power to force family business owners to act against their faith based solely on their companies’ form of organization.  Specifically, the government is mandating that Hobby Lobby provide four potentially life-terminating drugs and devices through their health insurance plans or face severe fines, even as it concedes that doing so will violate the Green family’s beliefs.  The Greens and their family businesses have no moral objection to providing 16 of the 20 FDA-approved contraceptives under the HHS mandate, and they provide a broad range of contraceptives at no additional cost to employees under their self-insured health plan.

Hobby Lobby’s brief calls on two centuries of high court rulings to counter the government’s reasoning that the Greens’ rights as individuals cannot be exercised through their family-owned corporation. The brief insists that this freedom does not “turn on [the Company’s] tax status,” and further states that the Administration cannot “divide and conquer” the Greens’ religious liberties from those of Hobby Lobby to make those rights “simply vanish.”

In the Citizens United case, the high court determined corporations had the first amendment right to speak out on political issues. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) “provides that the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.”

The intent, of course, is for the companies to be able to act out the religious beliefs of those running the company, in Hobby Lobby’s case the company is closed on Sunday for example.

Stay tuned to the blog to determined how the oral arguments went today. 

Precious progressives ponder possible Supreme Court review of religious objections to ObamaCare

[Since this was posted, SCOTUS has decided to take the Hobby Lobby case]

This brisk Portland morning I dragged myself into a local coffee shop to get three Americanos--stat!–and, coffeeas I was drizzling in the required milk product into the cups, overheard a gaggle of gals discussing ObamaCare. It seems the three 20-30 somethings were upset the US Supreme Court may decide today to take up cases that could exempt religious people from parts of the bill forcing them to cover abortifacent and birth control insurance coverage.  The convo went something like this,

Red head, ‘Well, I mean, they can have their religious beliefs…’

Short hair (finishing her sentence), ‘I suppose…’

Too much make up, ‘But should they be able to go line by line through it to pick what they want to follow? I mean…’

These women were in support of  forcing free people into a system which subordinates religious beliefs to obamacare priests arrested for protestthe collective ‘good.’ It made me sad they could speak so dismissively of religious beliefs while supporting a program, ObamaCare, which drops a cluster bomb into America’s health insurance and delivery system and thus far has been a spectacular failure. Had they been paying attention, these women would have known this aspect of ObamaCare has been fought hammer and tong since somebody actually read the bill.

SCOTUS could take up one of three cases challenging ObamaCare’s birth control insurance criteria, 

The three cases on which the court could act on Tuesday concern claims made by Mennonite, evangelical Christian and Roman Catholic families that run businesses.

“What’s really a focus of the case is protecting these people’s religious convictions,” said Kyle Duncan, an attorney with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents evangelical Christians David and Barbara Green and their children in one of the cases. They own arts and crafts retailer Hobby obamacare hobby lobbyLobby Stores Inc and Mardel, a chain of Christian bookstores.

A key question will be whether individual religious liberty applies to a person’s company. If stare decisis means anything, the legal theory guiding Citizen’s United campaign contribution case should prevail in this one. If it does, get ready for the howls of protest from the left. 

Back at the coffee shop, it never occurred to these women they could pay for their own birth control pills for less than $10 a month instead of forcing people of faith to forsake their beliefs to accommodate others’ sex lives. I guess the old saw about about cows and milk has been changed to, ‘why should I pay for my birth control when I can force it from everyone else for free?