March 25, 2014 |
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will consider a proposition that will strike many Americans as bizarre: that large, for-profit businesses can refuse on religious grounds to comply with a federal mandate that they include contraception in their employee health plans. Three companies - Hobby Lobby, a chain of craft stores with 13,000 full-time employees; Mardel, a bookstore chain; and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a cabinet manufacturer - are challenging the mandate. The businesses say it would require them to cover forms of contraception that the owners regard as equivalent to abortion - and thus offensive to their religious faith.
March 24, 2014 |
WASHINGTON - A challenge to part of President Obama's healthcare law that hits the Supreme Court on Tuesday could lead to one of the most significant religious freedom rulings in the high court's history. Four years ago, in their controversial Citizens United decision, the justices ruled that corporations had full free-speech rights in election campaigns. Now, they're being asked to decide whether for-profit companies are entitled to religious liberties. At issue in Tuesday's oral argument before the court is a regulation under the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to provide workers a health plan that covers the full range of contraceptives, including morning-after pills and intrauterine devices, or IUDs.
March 18, 2014 |
Are secular, for-profit corporations free to violate the rights of their employees by claiming that the law violates their corporate religious conscience? That's the big question at the heart of the two blockbuster challenges to a key provision of Obamacare that will be heard by the Supreme Court next week. In its 225-year history, the Supreme Court has never held that secular, for-profit corporations are entitled to the free exercise of religion. It should not start now. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood claim in their lawsuits that the Affordable Care Act's requirement that employers' health insurance plans cover preventive care for women, including the full range of FDA-approved contraceptives, violates their right to the free exercise of religion.
February 7, 2014
Re "The rights of the religious," Editorial, Feb. 4 The Times rightly defends but wrongly interprets a federal law that forbids the government from imposing "substantial burdens" on the exercise of religious convictions and requires federal officials to pursue the "least restrictive means" of achieving any "compelling interest. " The Times neglects 1st Amendment principles in defending the administration's attempts to force employers with conscientious objections to bow to the government's edict to have employee insurance policies that provide controversial contraceptives.
February 6, 2014
Re "The pope, the pill and the court," Opinion, Jan. 30 Malcolm Potts' claims about contraception are not uncontested. Whether nuns are prescribed hormonal medication has nothing to do with any church teaching on contraception. It is a matter between a nun and her doctor based on her risk factors and health needs. As U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops spokeswoman Sister Mary Ann Walsh pointed out, "There are risks with the pill just as there are risks with doing nothing with regard to uterine and ovarian cancer.
February 4, 2014 |
Two decades ago, Congress overwhelmingly approved and President Clinton enthusiastically signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. But now that the 1993 law is being used to challenge the Obama administration's requirement that employer health plans include contraceptive services, some supporters of the law are having second thoughts, and several organizations want the Supreme Court to declare it unconstitutional. That would be a mistake. The law was a response to a 1990 Supreme Court decision involving two Oregon men who had been denied unemployment benefits after they were fired for using the hallucinogenic drug peyote during a Native American religious rite.