The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By David G. Savage, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court’s conservative justices sharply criticized part of President Barack Obama’s health care law Tuesday, suggesting they will rule later this year that requiring Christian-owned corporations to offer their employees contraceptives coverage violates the freedom of religion.

“Your reasoning would permit requiring profit-making corporations to pay for abortions,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy told U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who defended the contraceptives provision of the Affordable Care Act.

The administration’s lawyer warned that the court would be adopting a “dangerous principle” if it gave employers a right to exempt themselves from federal laws based on their religious beliefs.

But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. countered that Congress had passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993 to require special exemptions based on religion.

The women justices — Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg — spoke in support of the Obama administration’s rule. They agreed with Verrilli that it would cause problems if employers were permitted to refuse to pay for benefits based on religion.

“You would see religious objectors come out of the woodwork,” Kagan said.

But the five conservative justices sounded as if they stood in opposition to the contraceptives mandate.

The justices were hearing a politically charged clash over a provision under Obamacare that requires all new health insurance plans pay for contraceptives, including the “morning after” pill and intrauterine devices, or IUDs.

Catholic bishops and some evangelical Christians opposed this rule, arguing that it forces employers to be complicit in what they consider to be a sin by paying for drugs that may destroy a fertilized egg.

The administration and women’s rights advocates say contraceptives are a basic health right for women, preventing both unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

The case also raises the question of whether for-profit corporations can invoke the religious beliefs of their owners in order to seek an exemption from federal law.

David and Barbara Green, founders of the Hobby Lobby chain of arts and crafts stores, sued and won an exemption from a lower court.

Verrilli argued that for-profit corporations do not have a right to religious liberty that trumps federal law.

But Paul Clement, the former solicitor general under President George W. Bush, defended the Greens and argued that they had followed their faith in operating the Hobby Lobby stores.

Photo: Clarissa Peterson via Flickr

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

From left Reps. Paul Gosar, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, and Louis Gohmert

Screenshot from The Hill video

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and three other “Sedition Caucus” Republicans held a press conference Tuesday allegedly to decry the conditions at the D.C. jail, which is housing accused suspects awaiting trial for actions during the January 6 Capitol riot. But Greene and her three co-members used the event primarily to further false far-right claims about the insurrection, while wrongly claiming they are being “persecuted” by the government – a talking point Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly used.

Keep reading... Show less

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir.

x
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}