Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Supreme Court rules in favor of religious liberty and against labor unions

Life News first, on the Hobby Lobby religious liberty vs abortion subsidies case.

Excerpt:

The Supreme Court ruled today that the Christian-run Hobby Lobby doesn’t have to obey the HHS mandate that is a part of Obamacare that requires businesses to pay for abortion causing drugs in their employee health care plans.

The Obama administration was attempting to make Hobby Lobby and thousands of pro-life businesses and organizations comply with the HHS mandate that compels religious companies to pay for birth control and abortion-causing drugs for their employees. However, the U.S. Supreme Court today issued a favorable ruling in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a landmark case addressing the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of business owners to operate their family companies without violating their deeply held religious convictions.

Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Samuel Alito handed down the decision for the high court, saying, “The Supreme Court holds government can’t require closely held corporations with religious owners to provide contraception coverage.”

The court ruled that the contraception mandate violated the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, a 1993 law and it held that the mandate “substantially burdens the exercise of religion” and that HHS didn’t use the “least restrictive means” to promote this government interest, tests required by RFRA.

“HHS’s contraception mandate substantially burdens the exercise of religion,” the decision reads, adding that the “decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to mean that all insurance mandates.” The opinion said the “plain terms of Religious Freedom Restoration Act” are “perfectly clear.”

“If the owners comply with the HHS mandate, they believe they will be facilitating abortions, and if they do not comply, they will pay a very heavy price — as much as $1.3 million per day, or about $475 million per year, in the case of one of the companies,” the opinion reads. “If these consequences do not amount to a substantial burden, it is hard to see what would.”

[...]The Hobby Lobby decision only applies to companies, including Conestoga Wood Specialties, which had a companion case pending before the Supreme Court. Non-profit groups like Priests for Life and Little Sisters are still waiting for a ruling about their right to opt out of the mandate.

[...]Americans “don’t give up their rights to religious freedom just because they open a family-run business,” Lori Windham, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represented Hobby Lobby. This is a landmark decision for religious freedom. The Supreme Court recognized that Americans do not lose their religious freedom when they run a family business.”

Barbara Green, co-founder of Hobby Lobby, also responded: “Our family is overjoyed by the Supreme Court’s decision. Today the nation’s highest court has re-affirmed the vital importance of religious liberty as one of our country’s founding principles. The Court’s decision is a victory, not just for our family business, but for all who seek to live out their faith. We are grateful to God and to those who have supported us on this difficult journey.”

You can read the reactions from people on the left on Twitter, in which they threaten to burn Hobby Lobby stores to the ground. Note that Hobby Lobby is only objecting to covering 4 out of 20 prescribed contraceptives required by Obamacare, just the ones that can cause abortions. They don’t want to pay money to other people to make it cheaper for them to kill unborn children. Makes sense, right? Not to the left.

And now the second decision, which was reported on in the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Home-based care workers in Illinois aren’t full-fledged public employees so they can’t be forced to pay dues to a union they don’t want to join, a divided Supreme Court said. But the limited ruling stopped short of barring organized labor from collecting fees from government workers who object to union representation.

The court, in a 5-4 opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, said the aides weren’t full public employees even though they are paid by the state with Medicaid funds. Because of that status, the workers—often family members of the disabled—couldn’t be required to pay what are known as agency fees to a public-sector union that provides them representation.

Justice Alito said requiring mandatory union fees violated the First Amendment rights of aides who didn’t want to join or support the union. Monday’s ruling split along ideological lines, with conservative justices in the majority and liberal justices in the dissent.

The high court avoided the broadest possible ruling in the case, declining a request by the challengers to limit the ability of public-sector unions to collect fees from all workers who decline to join labor unions. Labor lawyers said that while unions dodged that bullet in Monday’s ruling, they may not be able to in the future. The ruling “sets the table for more challenges to agency fees down the road. And this fact will not make unions sleep any easier,” said Michael Lotito, a labor lawyer at Littler Mendelson P.C.

[...]The National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation, an antiunion group in Springfield, Va., sued on behalf of eight Medicaid-paid aides, some of whom are covered by the SEIU agreement, saying the Illinois arrangement had forced parents and other relatives taking care of disabled people into union associations they didn’t want. The foundation said Monday’s ruling would free “thousands of home-care providers from unwanted union control.”

And lastly, somehow I missed a third good Supreme Court decision, which unanimously sided with the the pro-life Susan B. Anthony list. That decision came out in mid-June.

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House Committee: only 67 percent of Obamacare enrollees have paid premiums

From The Weekly Standard.

Excerpt:

Only two-thirds of the eight million enrollees into new health insurance plans as mandated by the Affordable Care Act have paid their first month’s premium as of April 15, according to a report from the House Energy and Commerce committee.

Here’s an excerpt from the committee’s statement:

Data provided to the committee by every insurance provider in the health care law’s Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) shows that, as of April 15, 2014, only 67 percent of individuals and families that had selected a health plan in the federally facilitated marketplace had paid their first month’s premium and therefore completed the enrollment process. Nationwide, only 25 percent of paid enrollees are ages 18 to 34. The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations today invited the leaders of some of the nation’s largest insurance providers and their trade groups to testify at a hearing, “PPACA Enrollment and the Insurance Industry,” on Wednesday, May 7, 2014, at 10:15 a.m. in room 2123 Rayburn House Office Building.

House Energy and Commerce Committee members sent letters requesting specific enrollment data, including the number of individuals who have paid their first month’s premium and demographic breakdowns. The committee has compiled the data that provides a snapshot of the true enrollment picture as of April 15, 2014, after the official end of the open enrollment period. Due to the administration’s repeated and unilateral extensions and changes, as well as the fact that many insurers have reported that individuals will still have time to pay their first month’s premium, the committee plans to ask the insurers in the federally facilitated marketplace to provide an enrollment update by May 20, 2014.

Now, remember when Obama went out in front of the eager mainstream media and bragged about how 8 million people signed up? Not one journalist asked him how many people had actually paid for a health care plan. And now we know the truth. But how many of the low-information voters who vote Democrat will read a story like this? They may be struggling with the new health care law, but they’ll think that it’s working for most people because of the mainstream media and the 8-million enrollments claim.

 

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Is there such a thing as a pro-life Democrat?

Life News reports on a troubling story.

Excerpt:

Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, who describes himself as pro-life and campaigned as a pro-life candidate, has vetoed a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

[...]“West Virginia’s Pain-Capable Fetus Protection Act protects children from abortion beginning at 20 weeks fetal age, based on scientific evidence that by this stage of development the child would experience excruciating pain.  Arizona’s law, as its name implies, focused on protecting the health and safety of the mother,” Balch explained.

[...]The states that have passed Pain-Capable bills include Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Texas.  The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 1797) passed the U.S. House of Representatives on June 18, 2013, by 228-196.  All three members of the West Virginia congressional delegation voted for that bill.

A National Right to Life Committee poll found that 63 percent of Americans, and 70 percent of women, support a ban on post-fetal pain abortion. The same poll also found that American women, by an overwhelming majority of 62-27 percent, would be more likely to vote for lawmakers who support this bill.

Now it seems to me that a ban on abortion after 20 weeks is a no-brainer, sort of like banning sex-selection abortions or banning race-selection abortions. Those are moderate positions that everyone can agree on, and yet this so-called pro-life governor wouldn’t sign the bill. Is that an exception to the way that Democrats usually do business?

Note the first time

But this is not the first time that Democrats have claimed to be pro-life when they actually voted pro-abortion.

Excerpt:

It became apparent on Tuesday that former Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) is suffering from a bout of “voter’s remorse.” In March of 2010, he and a coalition of pro-life democrats made an eleventh-hour decision to vote in favor of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with the justification that an executive order—to be issued by President Obama—would ensure that existing restrictions on federal funding for abortion would apply to the ACA.

What a difference nearly 2 ½ years makes. Mr. Stupak, who in March 2010 expressed unwavering confidence in the “‘ironclad’ commitment” he received “from the president that no taxpayer dollars will be used to pay for abortions,” is now singing a different tune about the ACA, or at least its implementation.

In a Democrats for Life panel during the Democratic National Convention, Stupak expressed his disapproval of the “HHS mandate,” which requires most private insurance plans to cover life-ending drugs and devices, and requires nearly all employers to offer (and pay for) the plans to their employees or pay a stiff penalty.

Mr. Stupak remarked, “I am perplexed and disappointed that, having negotiated the Executive Order with the President, not only does that HHS mandate violate the Executive Order but it also violates statutory law . . . . I think it is illegal.”

Similarly, in November of 2011 former Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), a member of Stupak’s coalition, claimed that she “would have never voted for the final version of the bill if [she] expected the Obama Administration to force Catholic hospitals and Catholic Colleges and Universities to pay for contraception.” She argued that she and her colleagues “worked hard to prevent abortion funding in health care and to include clear conscience protections for those with moral objections to abortion and contraceptive devices that cause abortion.”

Bart’s “perplexed and disappointed”. He said that in September 2012. Before the election.

But after the election, in 2013, he said that he “did not regret” his vote for the abortion mandate in Obamacare.

So the moral of this story is simple. If you don’t like killing unborn babies, and you don’t want it on your conscience, don’t vote for so-called “pro-life” Democrats. They campaign pro-life and then vote pro-abortion.

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Six bad arguments against religious liberty from the SCOTUS Hobby Lobby hearing

From the Federalist. (H/T Jay Richards)

Here are the 6 arguments:

  1. A Government Surtax On Religious Exercise Is Totally Acceptable
  2. The Mandate Isn’t Really A Mandate
  3. This Is Just A Sneaky Way To Undo The Civil Rights Act
  4. Corporations Can Have A Racial Identity, Just Not A Religious One
  5. Don’t Start A Business If You Want The Government To Respect Your Religious Rights
  6. Abortifacients Aren’t Really Abortifacients

I want to highlight two of these.

First, number 1 makes clear that the Obama administration thinks that you should have to pay a tax in order to follow your conscience. Obama explained that very well in his campaign speeches. If you have a business, you didn’t build that. The government made that happen, and so they have a right to tell you how to run your business.

Here’s #1:

During her questioning of Hobby Lobby’s lead attorney, Justice Sonia Sotomayor appeared to endorse the concept of a religion surtax. Sotomayor’s rationale was that rather than providing health coverage that included abortifacient coverage, companies could refuse outright to provide any health insurance at all, thereby getting around the mandate.

But isn’t there another choice nobody talks about, which is paying the tax, which is a lot less than a penalty and a lot less than — than the cost of health insurance at all? These employers could choose not to give health insurance and pay not that high a penalty ­­– not that high a tax.

Given that the American Revolution started in large part due to a tax on stamps, it seems odd that the Founders would have agreed that citizens should be forced to pay a tax for the privilege of not doing things that might lead to the eternal damnation of their souls. At any rate, Chief Justice John Roberts interjected, and noted that Hobby Lobby’s owners believed they had a religious duty to provide health coverage to their employees. As a result, they would be forced to violate their beliefs no matter what: providing abortifacient coverage would be a violation, as would a failure to provide any health insurance coverage at all.

Number 4 is also interesting. The Democrats basically argued that although companies can be regarded by the law as Black-owned or Hispanic-owned, they cannot be regarded as Christian-owned. A Black-owned company can complain about racial discrimination, but a Christian-owned company can’t complain about religious discrimination. So corporations can have a race, but not a religion.

Here’s #4:

Corporations are people, my friend, just as long as they’re not religious people. That’s the essence of one argument offered by Verrilli. A major issue in the case is whether a for-profit company or corporation even has standing to sue under RFRA, or whether that right is granted only to individuals or non-profits. The Obama administration has argued that for-profit companies do not have standing. That argument led Roberts to ask the following:

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Well, that’s a question of State corporate law. It’s not a question of who can bring an action under RFRA.

Could I just raise — eight courts of appeals, every court of appeal to have looked at the situation have held that Corporations can bring racial discrimination claims as corporations.

Now, does the government have a position on whether corporations have a race?

GENERAL VERRILLI: Yes. We think those are correct and that this situation is different.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: So that — so that a corporation does have a race for purposes of discrimination laws.

“So the person — the corporation can bring as a person a claim of racial discrimination[?]” Roberts asked.

“That’s correct, but not exercise of religion,” Verrilli replied.

My opinion of this Hobby Lobby case is that the government’s real aim is to force Christian churches, groups and businesses to offer abortion as another service in a health insurance plan. They have no respect for religious liberty or conscience. They just want to make sure that no Christian can judge because we would all be complicit in the mass murder of millions of unborn children. There would be no one on the outside who could claim to stand in judgment over the pro-abortion people. That’s why it’s so important to make evil taxpayer-funded. That normalizes it and removes the stigma from the people who take advantage of it. “The whole society paid for this, so I don’t need to feel guilty about it – it’s normal”.

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Woman gets $36,000 medical bill because hospital not covered by Obamacare gold plan

From KOMO News.

Excerpt:

Alex Szablya just wants the best health care she can get for her children. So she got a gold plan, the highest level possible with the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.  She picked a plan with Lifewise, an affiliate of Premera Blue Cross.

In early March, her 16-year old daughter had a medical emergency. Alex drove her to the nearest hospital, which was Seattle Children’s. Alex says doctors there felt her daughter’s situation was so dire she needed to be admitted to the hospital immediately. She was there for nine days.

Then came news that her stay, which involved specialized mental health care for adolescents, was going to cost $36,000 and her insurance would only pay for half because Seattle Children’s was considered on out-of-network facility.

She thought by going for the highest premium PPO gold level coverage offered the state exchange, a majority of the bill would have been covered.

“I’m paying a premium for that and I’m willing to pay that premium, but I expect to get services that are not so limited by the insurance companies,” she said.

She’s not alone. Seattle Children’s says its treated more than 125 patients who are not covered by policies offered by the exchange. In October, the hospital filed suit against the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, claiming the state office failed to ensure adequate network coverage in plans from its biggest providers like Premera Blue Cross.

“Because Seattle Children’s was not included in the major plans, children coming for care here were going to be denied care and in fact that’s what we are seeing,” said Dr. Sandy Melzer, senior vice president and chief strategy officer for Seattle Children’s.

Alex says Lifewise offered similar alternative care at other hospitals but it required traveling a three hour drive to Yakima or a two hour trip and ferry ride to Bremerton.  Children’s is a five minute car ride from her north Seattle home.

“This limited network is preventing me to get the specialty services that my children and I need in this community,” Aex said.  She’s now facing an $18,000 hospital bill she wasn’t prepared for.

Here’s a sketch from Chris Rock (whom I can’t stand) explaining the Obamacare Gold Plan:

Well, I don’t see why this is a problem, because the Obamacare Gold Plan covers all the birth control pills that she could possibly need, and at any hospital. It’s Sandra Fluke approved! Why isn’t this greedy reactionary Seattle woman thanking Obama for saving her from all those worthless private health care plans that existed before Obamacare? After all, the only reason that Obama lied to us about lowering premiums, keeping our doctors and our health plans is because those old private insurance plans were garbage compared to the Robitussin Gold Plan. 

Please can we elect someone who understands health care policy in 2016?

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