Corporate owners are NOT entitled to SUPER-CITIZENSHIP RIGHTS that they can wield in a discriminatory fashion against their employees. It’s time to end this culture war once and for all in November. We, as Democrats, need to encourage everybody we know to go to the polls and vote for folks who will actively work for the benefit of not just men, but women too. If we don’t vote and if we don’t convince our Independent and Non-Partisan friends to vote with us, we’ll have nothing but gridlock in Washington, one government shutdown after another and the introduction of second-class citizenship for women.
Conservative Court Says Religious Employers Can Deny Their Workers Birth Control
— by Ian Millhiser on Jun 28, 2013 at 9:58 am
An eight-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit struck a major blow against Obama Administration rules ensuring that most workers’ health plans will cover birth control. Although Thursday’s decision in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius leaves a few procedural stones unturned before courts can begin carving holes in the birth control rules, it leaves little doubt that a majority of the court’s judges will allow employers with religious objections to birth control to withhold birth control from their employees.
The Supreme Court established more than three decades ago that a company may not “impose the employer’s religious faith on the employees.” As the Court explained in United States v. Lee, “[w]hen followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.” So there should be little doubt that the employer in this case, a national chain of crafting retailers, must comply with a law requiring them to include birth control coverage in their health plans. Religious objections cannot be imposed upon an employer’s workers.
The Tenth Circuit’s majority, however, brushes past this aspect of the Lee opinion, although it somehow manages to rely on Lee for the proposition that religious employers’ right to immunize themselves from the law is much more robust than many other courts have held. Simply put, the opinion is a disaster for workers whose bosses cite religious justifications for ignoring their employees’ legal rights.
The majority opinion does not simply conclude that a for profit corporation may assert a religious objection to a law — itself a questionable proposition — it even opens the door to “a large publicly traded corporation tr[ying] to assert religious rights” (although the court does admit that it would be difficult for Walmart to prove that its alleged religious beliefs are sincere). It defines an important limit on religious liberty cases, the requirement that the plaintiff show that a law “substantially burdens” their exercise of religion, so narrowly as to render this limit a nullity in many cases. And it even includes some language suggesting that religious employers could successfully object to laws ensuring “gender equality.”
The last part of the court’s reasoning is significant because it portends the next strike religious conservatives are likely to launch if they win their case against the birth control rules — empowering people with conservative religious beliefs to ignore anti-discrimination laws. As social conservative writer Ross Douthat argued shortly after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the march towards marriage equality may be inevitable, but conservatives can still undermine this march by “build[ing] in as many protections for religious liberty as possible along the way.” Similarly, laws forbidding discrimination against gay workers will be drastically reduced in effectiveness if employers who bear religiously motivated animus against gay people can simply ignore those laws. Today, religious conservatives have their sights set on women who use birth control. If they win, gay people are next.
By Tara Culp-Ressler on Mar 13, 2013 at 2:40 pm
The right-wing Family Research Council — which uses its advocacy muscle to try to block comprehensive sexual health programs in public schools — is now going a step further, suggesting the young Americans who have premarital sex should be punished because they don’t deserve the right to engage in sexual intercourse.
According to senior FRC fellow Pat Fagan, the Supreme Court’s “first assault on marriage” was a 1972 case that overturned a state law banning unmarried people from purchasing birth control. Fagan claims that court decision effectively sanctioned premarital sex, “brushing aside thousands and thousands of years of wisdom, tradition, [and] culture.” Appearing on a radio show with Tony Perkins, the head of the organization, Fagan asserted that “society never gave young people that right,” and instead has an obligation to stop, punish, and shame that type of sexual behavior:
FAGAN: The court decided that single people have the right to contraceptives.What’s that got to do with marriage? Everything, because what the Supreme Court essentially said is single people have the right to engage in sexual intercourse. Well, societies have always forbidden that, there were laws against it. […]
It’s not the contraception, everybody thinks it’s about contraception, but what this court case said was young people have the right to engage in sex outside of marriage. Society never gave young people that right, functioning societies don’t do that, they stop it, they punish it, they corral people, they shame people, they do whatever. The institution for the expression of sexuality is marriage and all societies always shepherded young people there, what the Supreme Court said was forget that shepherding, you can’t block that, that’s not to be done.
In fact, a full 80 percent of unmarried evangelical Christians report that they are having sex. Despite the emphasis on abstinence within the evangelical community — a misguided approach to sexuality that typically shames young adults about their bodies, ignores the existence of the LGBT community, and fails to equip adolescents with the resources they need to effectively manage their sexual health — it’s clear that premarital sex is the norm, not something that threatens the very fabric of modern society.
And ignoring the reality that teens are having sex has had serious consequences across the country. The states that push ineffective abstinence-only health classes have higher rates of teen pregnancy, higher rates of STDs, and higher concentrations of HIV infections. Even the evangelical community itself has started to realize that denying teens sexual health resources isn’t working, and has begun to move in the direction of supporting contraception and sex education.
The United States’ teen birth rate has actually recently plunged to a record low — but that wouldn’t be the case if Fagan had his way and unmarried Americans were denied access to birth control. According to the Guttmacher Institute, that decline in unintended teen pregnancies is “almost exclusively” the result of more young people using contraception.
(HT: Right Wing Watch)
This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.
SB192, the Nevada Preservation of Religious Freedom Act (NPRFA), is currently being considered by the Judiciary committee. NPRFA is a “statified” version of the federal RFRA (Religion Freedom Restoration Act), which was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1997 because it overstepped Congress’ power to enforce the 14th Amendment (City of Boerne v Flores). If enacted, it would “prohibit governmental entities from substantially burdening the exercise of religion.”
It sounds like a good thing … right? It claims to compliment religious liberties in the U.S. Constitution. It even has bi-partisan support. But, the bill is ill-defined and is a back-door means of promoting religious rights above all others and allowing religious zealots to use that elevated religious right to discriminate against others at will — and if they’re not permitted to do so, it gives them the right to sue the state for damages. HELLO? What are we seeking to create, the Nevadaban?
Religious freedom is being used insidiously by conservatives across the country as an excuse for Christians to be bigots against the LGBT community. It’s also being used against women primarily in the form of denial to dispense birth control pills or “the morning after pill.” A case in point is a bill (SB 514) just recently introduced in Tennessee which would “bar schools from disciplining students if they decline to treat clients with “goals, outcomes or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the student.” It would allow graduate student counselors to reject helping suicidal LGBT students, students who are sexually active outside of marriage, and students who have been divorced. Where did they get such a magnificent idea? Michigan! The egregious Tennessee bill would not only prevent counselors from being expelled or fired, it permits them to freely discriminate under the shield of religious freedom.
That’s exactly what Nevada’s SB192 would do … permit religious zealots to freely discriminate and deny good/services, all under the shield of religious freedom. Today, the State has the ability to weigh compelling interests and arrive at accommodations. If SB192 passes, that may no longer be the case as religious zealots begin their campaign of bullying to get their way, and if the bullying fails … expensive litigation (the ultimate form of bullying) to get their way will ensue.
Notwithstanding any provision of NRS 41.0305 to 41.039, 25 inclusive, but subject to the limitation on damages set forth in 26 NRS 41.035 when applicable, a person whose religious exercise has been substantially burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against the governmental entity. The court shall award costs and attorney’s fees to a person who prevails in an action brought against a governmental entity pursuant to this section.
Freedom of and practice of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance. That concept is also generally recognized to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any religion. The freedom to leave or discontinue membership in a religion or religious group —in religious terms called “apostasy” — and IS a fundamental part of religious freedom. Belief and non-belief are opposite sides of the same coin — and one’s belief should never trump another’s dis-belief. I believe the first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says it all and it should be the final word on this subject, no SB192:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
and given that all 50 States have agreed to the full content of the U.S. Constitution and its amendments, that should should be enough.
- Republicans At It Again – New Tennessee Bill Allows Religious Counselors To Reject LGBT Students (addictinginfo.com)
- The HHS Contraception Mandate vs. the Religious Freedom Restoration Act—Introduction (National Review Online)
- The HHS Contraception Mandate vs. the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (Ethics and Public Policy Center)
- The Temple Of Hercules Industries, Inc. (Huffington Post)
- Our Constitution, Undivided (Huffington Post)
- Supreme Court Rules That RFRA exceedsCongress’ Power (Civil Rights Monitor)