December 31, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted a temporary exemption late Tuesday to a small group of Catholic nuns that shields it from having to comply with a part of President Obama's healthcare law that requires it to provide contraceptive coverage in its insurance plans. She acted on an emergency appeal from lawyers for the group who said the nuns faced "draconian fines" beginning on New Year's Day if they failed to comply with the law widely known as Obamacare. Sotomayor gave the government until Friday to file a response in the case.
December 6, 2013 |
Can a business like Hobby Lobby legitimately claim religious freedom in its legal battle against the Affordable Care Act's mandate that insurance plans cover drugs some people believe cause abortions? Notre Dame law professor Richard W. Garnett argued on The Times' Op-Ed page Thursday that Hobby Lobby -- which, he notes, closes its stores on Sundays so its employees can go to church, has Christian music as its stores' background music and doesn't sell shot glasses -- has the beliefs of its owners so embedded in its business practices that requiring it to cover abortifacients would indeed violate its religious freedoms. So far, readers have bristled at Garnett's argument.
November 28, 2013
Re "Birth control cases head to Supreme Court," Nov. 27 Individuals incorporate their businesses, in part, to be afforded certain shields against individual liability. Those corporations are by definition separate from the individual owners. In taking advantage of a corporate shield and its benefits, as Hobby Lobby has, it seems that the individuals relinquish the right to assert that the corporation is an extension of their personal beliefs while using that same corporation as a shield against personal liability.
November 26, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to jump into a growing legal dispute between the Obama administration and businesses run by conservative Christians over whether a company must pay for birth control drugs that conflict with its owner's religious beliefs. The decision to hear the cases, which could affect millions of women with employer-provided health plans, means that for a second time, the justices will decide the fate of a key part of President Obama's healthcare law. Last year, the court in a 5-4 decision upheld the requirement that individuals obtain basic health insurance or pay a tax penalty.
November 25, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - When the Supreme Court confronted the case of Native Americans who were fired for smoking an illegal drug during a religious ceremony, Justice Antonin Scalia called a halt to granting religious exemptions under the Constitution's protection for the "free exercise" of religion. It "would be courting anarchy" to permit "religious objectors" to ignore the law, he said. But Democrats in Congress rose up to overturn his decision and to bolster religious freedom. Backed by a broad coalition, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Christian Legal Society, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act became law 20 years ago this month.
October 6, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court term that opens Monday gives the court's conservative bloc a clear opportunity to shift the law to the right on touchstone social issues such as abortion, contraception and religion, as well as the political controversy over campaign funding. If the justices on the right agree among themselves, they could free wealthy donors to give far more to candidates and parties and clear the way for exclusively Christian prayers at local government events. In other cases due to be heard this fall, the justices are likely to uphold state bans on college affirmative action and block most housing bias claims that allege an unfair impact on blacks and Latinos.
September 19, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration set the stage Thursday for another Supreme Court showdown on the president's healthcare law, this time to decide whether for-profit companies can be forced to provide full contraceptive coverage for their employees despite religious objections from their owners. The administration's lawyers asked the justices to take up the issue this fall to decide whether these corporations can claim a religious exemption to this part of the healthcare law. U.S. Solicitor Gen. Donald Verrilli Jr. called the issue one of "exceptional importance" that needs to be resolved soon.
September 19, 2013 |
ROME - In an extraordinary, wide-ranging interview, Pope Francis expressed frustration that the Roman Catholic Church is "obsessed" with issues such as abortion, homosexuality and contraception, and called instead for a focus on healing and mercy. "The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules," Francis said in the interview published Thursday by an Italian Jesuit magazine. "The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials.
September 5, 2013 |
The Obama administration, trying to defuse one of the most contentious issues in its healthcare law, proposed Friday a new way to shield religiously affiliated organizations, such as hospitals and universities, from having to provide contraceptive coverage directly to their employees. Instead, the employees would obtain coverage through a separate, private insurance policy at no cost. The proposed rule also reaffirms that churches and other houses of worship themselves are exempt from the contraceptive mandate in Obama's healthcare overhaul, and makes it easier for institutions to show that they qualify for the exemption.