Religious Freedom and the Affordable Care Act

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

  1. shinjo_jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 5
    Per the New York Times, it looks like the Obama Administration might opt for the Hawaii-like compromise. Which I think is good for all parties involved - it ends a meaningless political war. And, again on a sidenote, I still feel not sympathy for the Catholic Church. When 98% (I think) of your constituents already use birth control, and 58% support the requirement, I find the faux outrage laughable. And I'll also feel sympathy when they take a hard line stance on poverty and welfare, rather than going all in on gays and contraception.
  2. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Which comes back full circle to the first post I made on the subject:

    "It's a political announcement made in an election year."

    Well, just today, Biden came out sort of against this announcement... (as much as a VP can politely question the wisdom of the order) When even Biden questions a move, you know you really have to stop and take stock over the wisdom of it.

    The thing is, the administration could have sought out the input of the affected institutions before it made the announcement. I think it was quickly issued as a bone thrown to the base, without thought of the larger issues. So now there seems to be a compromise that makes sense (and which was promoted here, I might add) which is how it should have been conducted in the beginning. So the administration has dodged a drawn out political issue (yesterday, the first suit was filed against this), but it still has to face the fact that it backed down first...all relating to an issue that it could have avoided in the first place.
  3. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    There's a theory that's going around that Obama did this to screw with Mitt Romney. Basically it goes like this: the president makes a controversial policy and it gets the fundies all riled up and while they're riled up they nominate Rick Santorum. Then there will be a 'compromise' to this policy while the GOP is stuck with a candidate that will lose by a large amount.

    It sounds crazy, but I think it makes a lot of sense.
  4. Obi-Wan McCartney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    Completely agree. Obama bumbled this one up and is going for the quick save.


    If this is true than Obama's crew are playing politics at a completely different level. Remember that episode of the West Wing where the President "accidently" makes fun of the opposing candidate when he "thought" the camera was off?
  5. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    I don't think that makes sense at all, and would be pretty stupid and short-sighted. It sounds like a "theory" like that would be fostered by those who can't find fault with the administration, ie..."no, he didn't mishandle this event because he plans everything out..." Because if it was even remotely true, then the entire hand was played waaaaayyyy too early. What good would it do to announce this, risk alienating entire swaths of the public, and then back off all within a week, at the start of the primary?

  6. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    I'd agree that trying to imagine this was some sort of political strategy is silly and a bit conspiratorial. There are too many turns in logic for it to be true. I also think that it's probably true the Administration misplayed this by underestimating the public response the Catholic Church could muster. But at the same time, I find it absolutely ridiculous to say that they "didn't consider the issue." There were multiple meetings on the issue, including with key players like Dolan and Keehan. Indeed, the other half your arguments were that Obama betrayed his allies from said discussions. It can't simultaneously be true that he failed to seek outside advice from religious authorities and that he betrayed his outside religious advisors.
  7. DarthIktomi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2009
    star 4
    Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith. If it applies to Indians, it applies to Catholics. If nothing else, I'd love to see Scalia try to say it doesn't.

    Also, um, repeat after me, Tea Party people: Just because a law isn't in the constitution doesn't make it unconstitutional, any more than just because no law says I'll walk five blocks east today makes my walking five blocks east today illegal.
  8. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Actually, that's not true.

    The Constitution is an affirmative grant of powers, and a list of restrictions on those powers. Quite simply, if it doesn't grant the government the power to do something, then it is unconstitutional for the government to do it.

    Kimball Kinnison
  9. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    That's pretty irrelevant to the point Iktomi made. There is a wide gulf between the grant of general powers found in the Constitution and the numerous, unlisted but acceptable applications of said powers. Which is why he rightly criticized Tea Party arguments that, for instance, Medicare is unconstitutional simply because there is no specific mention of the Medicare program in the original drafts produced by the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Despite what fringe thinkers like Perry and Paul may want, that's simply not a view that's taken seriously within the legal community.
  10. shinjo_jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 5
    I think it was Matt Yglesias that theorized they used this as a wedge issue to make Rubio and Santorum and some others come out against all insurance provided birth control in general, which obviously alienates everyone that to the left of Santorum.
  11. DeathStar1977 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2003
    star 4
    I don't buy the Romney-Santorum theory. It sounds like the plot of a heist movie where you have to assume too many people act a certain way at the right, convenient time for the perpetrators.

    Mr44

    I don't think that makes sense at all, and would be pretty stupid and short-sighted. It sounds like a "theory" like that would be fostered by those who can't find fault with the administration, ie..."no, he didn't mishandle this event because he plans everything out..." Because if it was even remotely true, then the entire hand was played waaaaayyyy too early. What good would it do to announce this, risk alienating entire swaths of the public, and then back off all within a week, at the start of the primary?

    You keep bringing up 'people who can't find fault with the administration', but aside from the fact that you can't find anything right with the Obama administration, here you can't even commend the administration for coming around to a conclusion you agree with, or at least a compromise.

  12. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    There was a change

    What has been hilarious about this is listening to Fox News, the GOP, Rush, and Beck, literally sit there and quite literally say that Obama on the side of contraception was the end of the world. THE END OF THE WORLD. LIBERTY itself was destroyed!

  13. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Latest Reaction from Bishops

    They have two points of objection:

    1. Insurance companies will still cover contraception
    2. Insurance plans for religious organizations will still be offering contraception to employees

    They phrase part two as a concern for "religious insurance companies" but frankly I find it ridiculous. If they had any legitimate issue before, they are now clearly over-reaching. I respect their right to personally object to the policy and wish that something different were in place. But I think it incorrect to try and frame this as an issue of "religious freedom" any longer. They are instead asking the government to weigh in on their side of the argument, and make access to contraceptives more difficult simply because they as Catholics disagree with it. I don't think that's an acceptable rationale for public policy.

  14. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    The way I see it, this whole thing has been way overblown (then again, hysterical right-wingers specialize in overblowing everything). "Religious freedom" is being invoked, but whose freedom are we talking about? We're talking about thousands of people who need timely access to contraception because contraception is shown to benefit people and society at large (44 mentioned a bit back that contraceptives are cheap enough already, though I'll have to wait on more information on that). So the access to contraceptives for thousands is weighed against what, the conscience of Catholics? The problem with that is that most Catholics already see no problem with contraceptives, only a bunch of bishops and Catholic higher-ups are opposed to it. So it's access to contraceptives for thousands weighed against the conscience of a few bishops....and considering that using contraceptives by the former doesn't really affect the latter, I can't see how the bishops' religious freedom is being denied. But then it's not even about the bishops being forced to give out contraceptives, because churches are exempt and it's only Catholic hospitals that are being compelled to do so. Was that really such a bad call to make? Would anybody else, say a hypothetical President Romney have done differently? Now that the mandate is being "tweaked" so that insurers are covering contraceptives instead of the Catholic hospitals (or if you will, the hospitals are now paying for it indirectly rather than directly) then I think there's even less to complain about.
  15. Obi-Wan McCartney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    Interesting. Mr. 44, Kimball, Deathstar do you guys agree with the Bishops or is the new compromise acceptable to you? Here the Church's no longer have to pay for contraceptive services, what is the problem now? The reaction of the Church seems to support my suggestion, this is not about individual religious freedom but rather about the ability of a church to control people's behavior.
  16. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    The issue as I understand it is that in this instance "religious freedom" means the right not to be compelled to participate (whether directly or indirectly) in an activity which the church considers to be sinful. The church does not want to have to endorse, or be implicated in or be connected with any form of contraception (particularly certain forms of contraceptives like the morning after pill) in any way. Accordingly, any law which compels them to do so (even indirectly) violates their first amendendment rights.

    Now, for those Catholics who do not care, then clearly their religious freedoms are not being violated and there is no grounds for constitutional challenge. But all it takes is for one person (the petitioner) to say that their religious freedoms are being violated and a challenge can be mounted. There is no real investigation into the validity of the claims being made, so even if a religious practice is only followed by one person and ignored by the rest, that one person can invalidate any law which would seek to restrict that person's religious freedom.

    It seems to me that in this instance, the law is pretty clear. Because it is a federal law, the RFRA applies. The RFRA basically says that religious freedoms may be violated by the enactment of a particular law but only if there is a compelling government interest for the enactment of that law and the enacted law must be the least restrictive way in which to further that government interest. There has been some discussion here about taxation and quakers. The same analysis applies. Clearly there is a compelling government interest to collect taxes because the state needs reveneue to function. Because there is no other way to collect revenue but to levy taxes then that is the least restrictive means. Ergo, taxation may indeed burden religious freedoms (by the direct contribution of funds to an activity which is contrary to religious beliefs), but the RFRA permits that violation of religious freedoms if the above elements can be established.

    In this instance, as KK has pointed out, there is a compelling government interest in providing equality in health care but is the law as proposed by the Obama Administration the least restricive means of furthering that government interest? That is the real issue IMHO, not whether there is a substantial burden on religious exercise or whether a majority of Catholics even care about contraception. I would think that the recent amendments by Obama would satisfy the
  17. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    OWM, I have no interest in either agreeing or disagreeing with what the Bishops want. I support the fact that they can criticize a topic that they may disagree with, and you should too. Unless they are breaking the law, they certainly have a right to continue the dialog if they want to. The compromise is something that should have happened from the beginning, and this would have never been an issue. The administration overstepped its bounds by the way it handled this issue. Obama backpedaled on this specific order, as there was really no other option. But those who have other disagreements can certainly make their displeasure known. It doesn't mean that the mere presence of a complaint will become policy. I'm also puzzled by your claim of trying to change people's lives. Every political topic is about changing behavior, or there wouldn't be a reason for it. A general rule of thumb that I agree with is the idea of "I may disagree with what you are saying, but I support your right to say it."
  18. DeathStar1977 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2003
    star 4
    OWM

    Based on what I know about it, I think it's a good compromise.


  19. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Allow me to try rephrasing. The bishops aren't merely saying they dislike the policy (which of course anyone is welcome to say about anything). They are instead suggesting that the new compromise still triggers severe and intolerable violations of First Amendment rights. People are now commenting on whether they feel there are still substantive First Amendment issues with the compromise. The alternative view is to see the bishop's stance as rooted more in their personal policy preferences than in any valid Constititional argument.

    What OWM, as well as myself and many others have concluded is that the latter view best reflects the actual situation. What do you say?
  20. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    For me, I agree with DS in that I'd say it's a good compromise.

    As far as creating an "alternative view," as I take your question, you want others to validate your own personal perception? I think it would be folly to attribute any internal motivations to others without actually having insight into what those feelings actually are, and I'm not sure what it would have to do with the issue. It would be just as improper if the administration went as far as completely banning birth control as it is improper to force institutions to provide it if it violated their beliefs. The goal just isn't to say one side is right, and the other side is wrong.



  21. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    I'm not looking for any sort of validation, no. It's just that I also though the original deal was pretty fair. So, much as you have argued the Obama Administration should have done more vigorously from the beginning, I thought it might be prudent to see if those with different viewpoints/priorities/perspectives also saw the deal as fair.
  22. DarthIktomi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2009
    star 4
    When I read "religious insurance companies"...

    [image=http://cdn.gs.uproxx.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/double-facepalm.jpg]
  23. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    'm not looking for any sort of validation, no. It's just that I also though the original deal was pretty fair. So, much as you have argued the Obama Administration should have done more vigorously from the beginning, I thought it might be prudent to see if those with different viewpoints/priorities/perspectives also saw the deal as fair.

    Gotcha. I don't even know which religious authority the objection comes from. (is it the Bible? The Pope? I'm not sure) The Catholic church is very male-dominated, but I'd also say that my own disagreement and/or lack of specific knowledge doesn't diminish how strongly others may feel about the issue. For me, this wasn't about birth control per se, it was about executive over-reach. The fact that some bishops may be carrying their objection farther despite a compromise is a consequence of how this was handled by the administration from the beginning. There was nothing that prevented the administration from getting a bunch of religious experts together and simply asking how to proceed, even if it took a couple of rounds of discussions. As was already pointed out here, there was no immediate crisis, health emergency, or exigency that warranted that this get handled how it was. It was simply a political gamble pressed by the administration, and this time, it lost. My point is that if these bishops continue with their objections, even if it doesn't result in any further policy changes, it may make Obama, as well as future Presidents, think twice about unilaterally acting in this manner.
  24. Obi-Wan McCartney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    Mr. 44, how come you always hate on Obama yet supported Bush without question? Or at least you never once seemed to criticize the former administration yet always find a reason to criticize this one?

    I mean, I already told you I'm not voting for Obama, but that's neither here nor there.
  25. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Mr. 44, how come you always hate on Obama yet supported Bush without question? Or at least you never once seemed to criticize the former administration yet always find a reason to criticize this one?

    Well, when Obama quits making dumb **** decisions, I'll throw some praise his way. Although it's been 3 years and I'm still waiting.

    Ok, seriously, that's obviously a joke, but you already know that I didn't blindly support Bush. The strongest praise I gave Bush was that he was a mediocre President, which hardly qualifies as a stellar review. (although on the ranking, I placed him one place above Clinton in the middle of the pack.) I think it was Alpha who just mentioned the hysterical right wingers who exaggerate everything, but in the forum's entire history, I don't think there was as much hysteria and exaggeration than there was generated by critics of the previous administration. It only seems like I defended Bush because of all the crazy, nutcase, off-the-wall things that were attributed to him- "OMG! Bush has "secret plans" to bring back the draft and invade Iran!!!" or "OMG! Bush is going to arrest people for having almanacs in their cars.." or "OMG! US citizens are going to be rounded up and shipped off to Gitmo!" or "OMG! Bush snuck in and switched all the copies of the Patriot Act, so Congress didn't know the actual version they were voting on..." <---that last one has always been a favorite of mine. I mean, really.... I'd bet we could fill volumes of posts examining the political realities of how the "Iraqi body count" was a paralyzing obsession in 2004, but didn't matter in 2008. Or why it didn't become very important to close Gitmo after 2009. Or how back in their inception, both the Patriot Act and the terrorism wiretapping laws were criticized as literal signs of the apocalypse, but when they were both renewed/expanded in 2011, they represented smart decisions that were rather pleasant.

    For comparison, I thought our discussion about this religious issue was a really good one. But to get the same level of wackiness now that was leveled against the previous President, someone would have had to come in here, supply a link which indicated that Seymour Hersh* uncovered anonymous sources which told him that Obama only did this because he was a secret satanist and wanted to knock out the Catholic church before the final assault of the devil. So instead of examining the legal issues of the topic like we ended up doing, we would all waste time debating how Hersh just reports on things that others are too scared to report, and because he thinks Obama is a satanist, accuracy doesn't matter, the disclosure does. Because providing a point by point breakdown of something like the Patriot Act isn't "defending Bush." Explaining that the "imminent draft scare" wasn't authored by the President, and in fact, was only a proposal submitted by 2 (D) Congressmen which died in committee, isn't "defending Bush" either. It's the same reason why I never put stock in the "birther movement" against Obama. Holding the birthers to a level of facts isn't same as defending the President, it's just poking holes in something that's meaningless to begin with.

    So I did defend a lot of specific topics within the Bush administration at the time, but 1)that's hardly the same as supporting the man himself without question, and 2)I did so because most of the topics took on a kind of tabloid-rumor mill quality that overshadowed their actual content. In other words, the first time I call Obama a satanist, you can call me a hypocrite.


    *= Bonus points given out if Seymour Hersh isn't used as the source, but Michael Moore is. Moore's sheer amount of exaggerations and outright lies meet the very dictionary definition of "deception." But that didn't matter either, because the facts themselves took second fiddle to his "spin" he wanted to get across. Back then, Moore was a visionary...Now, is there anyone on the planer that still takes him seriously?