Religious Freedom and the Affordable Care Act

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Obi-Wan McCartney, Jan 31, 2012.

  1. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    OWM, eh...But you know that a private citizen or entity is not the government. The employee could even get that provision negotiated into a private employment contract, as that's what contract law covers. The corporation would be subject to employment guidelines, but that's an entirely different thing than what we're talking about. If you had a spouse, you could search their closet for anything, where agents of the government need a warrant (or probable cause/exigency). You know what I mean. A company who hires an employee with the understanding that they'll work on Friday, is not the same concept as the government decreeing that all employees have to work on Friday, regardless of circumstance. The legal/Constitutional issues are of a completely different scale.
  2. DarthIktomi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2009
    star 4
    Well, in Judaism, circumcision is about Jewish identity. Technically, Christians who do it are spitting in God's eye. Also, it's not really a medical procedure, any more than my pierced ears are. (In fact, a doctor doing it "doesn't count" in Judaism, too.) In Islam, it's not in the Qur'an, but in hadith, which is Arabic for [citation needed].

    Back to the topic at hand, better example of this in medical insurance, though, would be cientologists, Christian Scientists, and Jehovah's Witnesses.

    First, Jehovah's Witnesses believe blood transfusions are a form of vampirism. Since blood transfusions are a routine part of lifesaving surgery, are we going to assume lifesaving surgery is off the menu?

    Next, Christian Scientists, who believe all healing should come through prayer. Seriously. So they really wouldn't want any medical plan.

    Finally, Scientologists. I know they have some problem with conventional medicine, but I don't knwo what it is. I've heard of something. *sweats while staring at large man across room*
  3. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    And I am saying that if the employees are simply shown a list of where they can procure such coverage, they would be able to get it without any employer involvement at all. That way, the employer can't get a list in any way.

    Kimball Kinnison
  4. Obi-Wan McCartney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    Kimball, I think you bring up a valid point about Citizens United. Still, where is the substantial burden?
  5. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    No, but I don't see how your example really made sense, either. Certainly, I don't think it much reflected the situation we are actually discussing. It is fairly clear how an attempt to regulate health insurance might involve specifying components of mandatory minimum coverage. That's where the present debate comes from.

    On the other hand, I'm not aware of anything that allows the government to the sort of mandate your hypothetical suggests. You may as well go on to ask what would happen if the government decided to play out the Revelation of Saint John and began randomly beheading church-goers.

    I don't really know what would happen then, nor could I enumerate the legal issues involved. But as Justice Kagan said about the Republican "broccoli law" example, it seems unlikely to happen and is stupid. I'm not sure it grants us any real insight into the present situation.
  6. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    No, but I don't see how your example really made sense, either. Certainly, I don't think it much reflected the situation we are actually discussing.

    Except that was a specific response, taken out of a larger paragraph, which was a specific answer to a specific question asked by OWM. (notice how many times the word "specific" was used?) I don't dispute that it might not apply to you, but you can't take a single sentence out of a larger example and somehow claim that it doesn't make sense in general, or that it fails to reflect a different idea you might be thinking about. It wasn't meant to.
  7. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    OWM, you can't just keep repeating that question unless you are going to give some sort of criteria for what you would accept as an answer. You seem to be treating it almost as though it's only a financial burden, and because monetarily it doesn't cost much it's not substantial.

    According to the teachings of the Catholic Church, it is a mortal sin to use contraceptives, let alone to have or participate in an abortion. It is the sort of act that can cause one's soul to die and face eternal condemnation in Hell. While it can still be repented of, it is a harder process and places an immense spiritual and moral burden on the individuals involved. The Catholic Church's perspective includes those who help others to commit mortal sins as being guilty of the same sin.

    How is that not a "substantial burden" on those who run a religious organization, even if it is focused on providing secular services?

    Kimball Kinnison
  8. Obi-Wan McCartney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    These kinds of questions are very subjective. KK, I think you have laid out a cogent argument. However, like I suggested before, in my opinion it's a weak argument, or rather I myself don't find it to be very persuasive.

    Under that logic any individual whose religious views conflict with anything the government does or spends money on shouldn't be forced to pay taxes. People whose religious faith dictates non violence shouldn't be forced to pay for the military. Strict jews whose faith dictates that they don't work on Fridays should be allowed Fridays off at their government job. Hindus shouldn't be forced to pay taxes to a goverment supports and purchases products from the beef industry. Native Americans should be exempt from drug laws. Polygamy should be legal. Do you agree with all of that?

    I guess my point is not whether this is the best policy (as I think accommodations should be made within reason), but whether this is legal. If covering birth control on a corporate insurance plan is an unconstitutional burden on religion, how are polygamy laws constitutional?

    I think suspect this is not so much about religious freedom, but rather about politically attacking the Affordable Care Act as a whole.
  9. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    OWM, as you know, neither protection on either side is absolute. That's where the "reasonable" standard comes into play...

    I mean, what's the big deal if the government wants to read your emails, right? According to your standard, if you're only discussing a personal matter, and not specific sensitive business or financial information, it shouldn't qualify as substantial burden?* But yet, many people feel quite strongly about a right to privacy, even though it's not one of the enumerated rights. At which point does a personal belief in the concept of privacy meet with the community's interest for safety and security? There have been many, many court cases over the issue. That's what I was getting at above. What you seem to be doing is trying to set up 2 standards. One for all other legal concepts, and one for religious ones. Or at the very least, you're setting up an unreachable standard when you say "I don't see how the religious institution in this case has a compelling interest, and oh yeah, I don't see how any religious belief could ever be compelling..." If this was a case where the church was trying to completely ban birth control, I'd be with you. If it were a case where the church tried to forbid the use of birth control by any employee while they worked for the church, I'd be with you. This is simply a case where the church says that they don't want to financially support a practice that directly conflicts with a tenet of their belief, but if the employee wants to go do it on their own, they can. It's actually rather reasonable.

    I think suspect this is not so much about religious freedom, but rather about politically attacking the Affordable Care Act as a whole.

    And this is rather cynical, don't you think? As a fellow cynic, I get where you are coming from. However, 99.9% of this reality was brought on by the administration itself. Remember, the administration agreed to the exemption in the beginning in order to get the act passed. It then took it upon itself to unilaterally negate this section of the law during an election year, even going so far as to give an extension until after the election....That's not a coincidence. If anything linked this to an attack on the act as a whole, it was because the administration fired the first shot across the bow. Otherwise, it would have never been an issue. It may or may not pay off come election time, but it's still called playing "dirty politics." If this section is ultimately undone by the SC, I could actually see it falling along lines of contract law or similar idea, and the court would never even have to address the specific religious issues.



    *=note to JW. The section starred above is only a hypothetical example, used as a response to a specific point. I'm not calling for the government to actually read OWM's emails in this case, so you don't have to take it out in isolation, and claim that you don't agree with it.
  10. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    I'm not really sure why you assumed I haven't read the thread.

    You originally raised the point to demonstrate that Catholics shouldn't have to offer a special justification because rights are already guaranteed to everyone. He gave you a two-pronged answer to your hypothetical. One, you rejected on the notion that a private citizen is not the same as the government. But the first, which you did not comment on, is basically in line with my own: that is a stupid and improbable law (or, in his own words "I think here you could show [. . .] a compelling lack of state interest."). An example that better isolated the issue you were actually trying to address would be decidedly better.

  11. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    I'm not really sure why you assumed I haven't read the thread.

    JW, are you sure you're not confusing my posts with someone else's, or maybe cross posting in a different thread or something? Who mentioned anything about you not reading the thread or anything of the sort? I don't think such an assumption was ever posted here. I like bantering with OWM, and I like to participate in debates with him because he provides viewpoints which strengthen my own. But I don't even know how to respond to anything in your post, or what it is supposed to mean.

    OWM asked if a private citizen could sue a company for not giving them Friday nights off. I said that it would depend on their employment contract, because private citizens are not the government. For this example, there may be Jewish companies out there that given all their employees (Jews and non-Jews alike) this time off. I know for a fact that the orthodox Jewish diamond merchants in New York's "merchant's row" don't conduct business during their Sabbath. A non-Jew who may get a job at one of the stores has no expectation of working overtime on Friday night, for example, because the store itself will be closed. This is exactly the same idea we are talking about. Someone who gets a job at a Catholic run institution will be told, at the time of hire, that birth control is not covered under the provided health insurance. If that specific employee wants insurance-supplied birth control, and still takes the job, they will have to purchase it themselves.

    In either case, the government has no business telling a Catholic church that they must cover birth control under employer sponsored health insurance, any more than the government should be forcing a Jewish diamond exchange to stay open during the Sabbath as part of an economic stimulus plan. Both represent the same potential violation of the 1st Amendment. Historically, it hasn't fallen to the subject to justify why they need the Constitutional protection, because it universally exists. Instead, it's fallen to the government to prove why the protection needs to be encroached on.

    I thought it was pretty straightfoward. If that example doesn't fit within your own viewpoint, by all means, offer a counter-point. But a counterpoint isn't just sitting back and exclaiming that I should have provided a different example that you would have accepted, because doesn't that defeat the purpose of a debate?
  12. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    A non-Jew who may get a job at one of the stores has no expectation of working overtime on Friday night, for example, because the store itself will be closed. This is exactly the same idea we are talking about. Someone who gets a job at a Catholic run institution will be told, at the time of hire, that birth control is not covered under the provided health insurance. If that specific employee wants insurance-supplied birth control, and still takes the job, they will have to purchase it themselves.

    Well I would imagine that not having access to birth control would be a bigger issue than simply not being able to work on a Friday night.
  13. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Well I would imagine that not having access to birth control would be a bigger issue than simply not being able to work on a Friday night.

    I guess that would all depend on one's point of view. But regardless, this is a statement that comes up once in a while, but which I never quite understood. Since when did "not getting something for free," become synonymous with being "denied access to something?" Most employer's health plans don't give out free Robetussen either, but that doesn't mean that anyone is refused access to the stuff, and has to suffer endless coughing. They just go down to the Walgreen's and buy it if they want it. A quick web search listed dozens of sites where people can buy birth control pills, for about $1.80 a day. That's less than a Starbucks Grande Cafe Mocha, or a Coca-Cola from many vending machines. Not to mention local Planned Parenthoods that may be in an area, university health centers, and local clinics. Also, a box of 12 condoms cost about $9-$10 for a different option. And so on...

    No matter what other issues are involved, the fact that the Catholic Church doesn't provide free birth control as part of an employee benefit package doesn't suddenly deny access to the practice.
  14. DarthIktomi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2009
    star 4
    Thread summarized right there. This would, of course, help me get out of paying taxes. I'd just have to be a Catholic in a state that has the death penalty.

    Eh? Only one (relatively recent) religious tradition I'm aware of uses drugs. The Lakota get our visions on nothing. And by nothing, I mean that literally.

    Well, I'm pretty sure the Republicans like the mandatory insurance clause, since, um, they drafted it.
  15. Obi-Wan McCartney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    Exactly. Death Penalty, good example there. How about it Mr. 44?
  16. shinjo_jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 5
    My opinion is there are better ways to accomplish the same goals, but in the end I don't see it really being an infringement on religion. The employees don't have to take the birth control, so they're not being forced to as it remains optional. It allows for non Catholic employees to get birth control if they choose and therefore doesn't violate Catholicism.

    On a side note, I'm so sick of the Catholic Church's obsession with birth control, abortion, and gays. And I'm Catholic. I'll be more sympathetic when the Church becomes outraged over cutting poverty programs and advocating for helping thy neighbor. You know, things that are actually in the Bible.
  17. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    Religion or the freedom to practice it does not supersede the law. If they are required to provide contraception then that is that. And it is not like this is actually some great evil or sin or whatever word they wish to use. Conraception is a good thing and the Catholic church is that which has no right to dictate otherwise.

  18. shinjo_jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 5
    Contraception also drastically decreases the number of abortions. Just saying, if you have to pick the lesser of two evils from their perspectives. Not that contraceptive is an evil, but to them I guess it is (as it seems to trump the welfare of the poor).
  19. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Exactly. Death Penalty, good example there. How about it Mr. 44?

    I'm sorry, what about the death penalty?
  20. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    If birth control pills really are that cheap, then I suppose it's much less of an issue (I wouldn't know, I've never had to use them before). But speaking hypothetically, if birth control were something more like $30 per day or whatever amount that causes considerable financial burden to the user, would your stance be any different?
  21. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    It's pretty unlikely birth control pills will ever go up in price, given how widespread their use is. And yeah, they are dirt cheap. FWIW, unemployed women (in my state, anyway) can get birth control pills for free from the Health Department, along with depo-privera shots.
  22. Obi-Wan McCartney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    Mr. 44, should citizens whose religion opposes the penalty of death (ie Catholics) be forced to pay state taxes that are used towards capital punishment?
  23. McLaren Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 1, 2002
    star 2
    Since the Affordable Care Act is Federal law, this might be a better analogy: Quakers and taxes

    Render onto Ceasar...
  24. JediSmuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 1999
    star 5
    And therein lies the rub for a number of other people. If one these pills costs less than a two-liter bottle of soda, then why hold a [figurative[ gun to the Catholic Church's head to make them pay for it when there are options to get he pill for free? I'm sure that it wouldn't be too hard to set up a means to provide free or low-cost birth-control pills. So why force Catholics to compromise their religious principles?

    Is what will emerge from doing so worth it?

    Furthermore, this is not going to be seen as a case in isolation. They will look at this and note other potential church-state conflicts ahead, and they will fight it out with the Secular Left - because they now have no reason to trust them at all when they promise to respect religious freedom.

    I think this country will become further divided because of this.
  25. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    I would suggest that there is a difference between the government taking your money (in the form of taxes) to use for something you disagree with, and the government requiring you to give your money to a private party to do something you disagree with.

    The contraception decision is a case of the latter. The government isn't taxing the Catholic organizations in order to provide free contraceptives to everyone. Instead, they are requiring those Catholic organizations to directly provide contraceptive coverage to employees.

    I still fail to see how a solution like Hawaii's is unworkable. Hawaii has essentially made it possible for individuals to purchase contraceptive coverage independent of their employers (not simply as riders on the employer-provided policy).

    I fail to see how such a compromise is such a large burden on people's rights, especially when they knew going in to their job who they would be working for. The number of people who would actually be affected by such an exemption would be relatively small overall. It doesn't have to be all-or-nothing.

    Kimball Kinnison