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.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

SCOTUS Justice grants stay for some from Obamacare pro-abortion mandate

This article from NBC News reports on a development in some of the cases being brought by Christian organizations against the Obama administration.

Excerpt:

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted a last-ditch plea from Catholic groups Tuesday night to block a birth control mandate in the new health care law for religious organizations, just hours before it was to have gone into effect.

Sotomayor issued the stay at the request of an order of Catholic nuns in Colorado, part of a larger effort by Catholic-affiliated groups from around the nation to halt provisions of the Affordable Care Act that require companies — regardless of religious beliefs — to provide contraceptives and other abortion-inducing drugs to their employees.

The groups wanted the mandate halted while the court considers a legal challenge, brought by the for-profit company Hobby Lobby, arguing that the requirement violates their religious liberties.

In June, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver waived millions of dollars of fines against Hobby Lobby and a subsidiary, Mardel Christian Stores, which refused to comply with the mandate, writing that the companies were likely to win their claim that requiring for-profit companies to pay for birth control was a violation of religious protections.

The motion for a stay went to Sotomayor as the justice with oversight for the 10th Circuit. She gave the government until Friday to respond.

“Tomorrow, a regulatory mandate will expose numerous Catholic organizations to draconian fines unless they abandon their religious convictions and take actions that facilitate access to abortion-inducing products, contraceptives, sterilization, and related education and counseling for their employees,” the groups said in their request for a stay Tuesday.

The mandate requires companies run by Christians to provide their employees coverage for drugs that can cause abortions  by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg.

The big case that everyone is watching is the Hobby Lobby case, and they were granted a stay from a federal court back in July of 2013. Their case is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the government will argue that Christians should be forced to subsidize abortion, in violation of their consciences.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Who killed marriage? A look at the history of gay marriage activism

From National Review, a reminder from Ed Whelan on which political party pushed for the redefinition of marriage.

Excerpt:

In 1996, defenders of marriage respond to judicial mischief against marriage by drafting and proposing the Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA wins overwhelming majorities in both Houses of Congress—85 to 14 in the Senate and 342 to 67 in the House. Among its supporters are many strong advocates of gay rights, including President Clinton, who signs DOMA into law, and then-senator Joe Biden.

This modest measure merely reaffirms and makes crystal clear what Congress had always meant by the term marriage in provisions of federal law: a male-female union. DOMA doesn’t intrude at all on a state’s authority to regulate marriage under state law. It doesn’t nullify or prohibit any marriages, or in any other respect preempt the operation of state law. On the contrary, it leaves the states free to define, or redefine, marriage as they please.

Initial litigation attacks against DOMA fail. But then President Obama is elected. First, the Obama administration, with the complicity of then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan, actively sabotages its purported defense of DOMA. Then, on the flimsiest of pretexts, it completely abandons its duty to defend DOMA and aggressively attacks DOMA. (See Part IV of my House testimony on the “First” proposition and the remainder of it on the latter.) The Supreme Court ends up invalidating DOMA in an opinion by Justice Kennedy that, in the course of breaking new ground, smears supporters of DOMA as mean-spirited bigots. To top off the farce, Kagan provides the decisive fifth vote.

The battle for marriage in California displays a similar pattern. In 2000, California voters adopt Proposition 22 to affirm that marriage in California remains what it has always been—the union of a man and a woman. In May 2008, the state supreme court, in a novel opinion and by a 4-3 vote, strikes down Proposition 22 as supposedly violative of the state constitution. Marriage supporters respond with Prop 8, which the voters of California adopt in November 2008. Intense and vicious bullying of supporters of Prop 8 ensues.

Proponents of same-sex marriage then run to their favorite federal courthouse to challenge Prop 8 on federal constitutional grounds. They draw as the judge in the case Vaughn Walker, who proceeds to engage in what is probably the most egregious course of misconduct ever by a federal district judge (and who discloses only after his retirement from the bench that he is in a long-term same-sex relationship and thus was ruling on his own right to marry his same-sex partner). The Ninth Circuit ruling on appeal, which also holds Prop. 8 to be unconstitutional, is written by notorious liberal activist Stephen Reinhardt. Judge Reinhardt’s wife, Ramona Ripston, directed an ACLU affiliate that filed briefs in support of the Prop. 8 challengers in the same case and publicly rejoiced over Judge Walker’s ruling. Yet Judge Reinhardt somehow refuses to disqualify himself from deciding the appeal.

As reprehensible is the unprecedented refusal of California officials to defend Prop 8—a refusal that ultimately leads five members of the Supreme Court (including Kagan, the decisive vote once again) to rule that the Court has no jurisdiction over the case.

So Obama’s selection of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, a known opponent of marriage, was decisive. She was confirmed to the court in 2010, so you might expect all the church-attending people who supported Obama to not vote for him again in 2012. I wrote about her pro-abortion views and pro-gay-agenda views in 2010, so we all had the opportunity to realize what Obama believed by nominating Kagan. But something tells me that the church people who voted for Obama in 2008 just went ahead and voted for him a second time in 2012. Because they were not interested in his record at all. They were moved by shallowness and appearances.

One thing that I would like to say to people who attend church, but who voted for gay marriage activists. The Bibles in the pews are there for a reason. If you formulate your decision on how to vote without it, then that is not authentic Christianity. You should not vote without reading evidence from research (e.g. – scientific research like the Regnerus study) to confirm the Bible and apply the Bible. I don’t think that God is pleased with people who disregard his Word and the evidence that confirms it. You are not here to be influenced by Hollywood or by public schools. You are here to know God and to puzzle these moral questions out using evidence.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , ,

Supreme Court overrules elected legislators and imposes new definition of marriage

Here’s an article from National Review by professor Hadley Arkes to make sense of the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage.

Excerpt:

These decisions, handed down by the Court today, affect to be limited in their reach, but they are even worse than they appear, and they cannot be cabined. They lay down the predicates for litigation that will clearly unfold now, and with short steps sure to come, virtually all of the barriers to same-sex marriage in this country can be swept away. Even constitutional amendments, passed by so many of the states, can be overridden now. The engine put in place to power this drive is supplied by Justice Kennedy’s “hate speech,” offering itself as the opinion of the Court in U.S. v. Windsor. Kennedy wrote for the Court in striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the part of the act that recognized as “marriage,” in federal law, only the union of a man and woman. In Kennedy’s translation, the Defense of Marriage Act showed its animus in its very title: The defense of marriage was simply another way of disparaging and “denigrating” gays and lesbians, and denying dignity to their “relationships.” As Justice Scalia noted so tellingly in his dissent, Kennedy could characterize then as bigots the 85 senators who voted for the Act, along with the president (Clinton) who signed it. Every plausible account of marriage as a relation of a man and woman can then be swept away, as so much cover for malice and blind hatred.

As Scalia suggested, that opinion can now become the predicate for challenges to the laws on marriage in all of the States. A couple of the same sex need merely go into a federal court and invoke Justice Kennedy’s opinion in the DOMA case (U.S. v. Windsor): The Supreme Court has declared now that a law that refuses to recognize same-sex marriage is animated by a passion to demean and denigrate. Any such law cannot find a rational ground of justification. As Kennedy had famously said in Romer v. Evans, those kinds of laws can be explained only in terms of an irrational “animus.”

That may be enough to have the laws and the constitutional provision overruled. But it gets even better if the state has a Democratic governor: For he may declare now that he will not enforce the constitutional amendment, for he thinks it runs counter to the federal Constitution. And by the holding today in the case on Proposition 8 in California (Hollingsworth v. Perry), the backers of the constitutional amendment will have no standing in court to contest the judgment. Constitutional amendments are meant to secure provisions that will not be undone by the shift in season from one election to another. But with the combination of these two cases today, any liberal governor can virtually undo a constitutional amendment on marriage in his state.

Here is another reaction from the Family Research Council.

Here’s a good article by Ryan T. Anderson, explaining how the redefinition of marriage really means the end of marriage. It also means the end of religious liberty. Make no mistake, this decision will force Christians to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies on their property, whether they like it or not. That’s what is already happening in countries that legalized gay marriage.

I for one am surprised that so many people who call themselves Christian could have voted for a political party that has now ended marriage as we know it. I think that most people who vote for the Democrat party are motivated by the desire for their neighbor’s money – they voted for the party that gives them the most goodies. They decided to sacrifice the needs of children in order to keep the money from the welfare state flowing. I hope that this SCOTUS decision helps those who voted Democrat to understand that their true positions on issues like abortion and gay marriage. I am especially concerned with people who claim to believe in God and even claim to be Christians. When it came time to be counted, you voted for abortion and gay marriage. Your vote ensured that tiny little children would feel lost in the world, making it easier for them separated from their biological mother or their biological father. That’s assuming that the selfish grown-ups even allow them to be born at all.

I think the greatest condemnation will be reserved for the pious celebrity pastors who took great pride in not educating members of their churches about what gay marriage would really do. They were so proud about not having any reasons outside of the Bible to oppose same-sex marriage. They made sure that opposition to gay marriage, like opposition to abortion and Darwinism, would be dismissed as so much religious bigotry in the public square by non-Christians. Those fideistic pastors paved the way for gay marriage, by sheltering their flock from the arguments and evidence that would have been persuasive to non-Christians. I hope that when they are forced to perform gay marriages in their churches, that they’ll finally understand why research papers, studies and academic debates are more important than singing songs in church.

UPDATE: I have been advised by Sean G. that Proposition 8 is still the law in California after this ruling. This Breitbart article explains:

As of today, there is no appellate opinion (meaning an opinion issued by a court of appeals) against Prop 8. The Supreme Court refused to issue one, and threw out the only other one (the Ninth Circuit’s). There is only a trial court opinion. So every agency in California is legally bound to regard Prop 8 as binding law.

Since no one who wants to defend Prop 8 has standing to appeal rulings on it to the Ninth Circuit, there will never be such an opinion in the federal court system. So the only way to get an appellate opinion would be in the California state court system. So someone would have to file a lawsuit regarding Prop 8, and then appeal it to a California court of appeals and then maybe to the California Supreme Court. Only when one of those courts hold Prop 8 unconstitutional can the public officials in that state regard it as stricken from the books.

That litigation could take years. And in the meantime, supporters of traditional marriage can continue making the case for marriage.

So the outcome for Prop 8 is not as bad as the outcome for DOMA.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

George Will on the secular left’s opposition to freedom of association

From the liberal Washington Post.

Excerpt:

Illustrating an intellectual confusion common on campuses, Vanderbilt University says: To ensure “diversity of thought and opinion” we require certain student groups, including five religious ones, to conform to the university’s policy that forbids the groups from protecting their characteristics that contribute to diversity.

Last year, after a Christian fraternity allegedly expelled a gay undergraduate because of his sexual practices, Vanderbilt redoubled its efforts to make the more than 300 student organizations comply with its “long-standing nondiscrimination policy.” That policy, says a university official, does not allow the Christian Legal Society “to preclude someone from a leadership position based on religious belief.” So an organization formed to express religious beliefs, including the belief that homosexual activity is biblically forbidden, is itself effectively forbidden. There is much pertinent history.

[...][I]n 2010 the [Supreme] court held, 5 to 4, that a public law school in California did not abridge First Amendment rights when it denied the privileges associated with official recognition to just one student group — the Christian Legal Society chapter, because it limited voting membership and leadership positions to Christians who disavow “sexual conduct outside of marriage between a man and a woman.” Dissenting, Justice Samuel Alito said the court was embracing the principle that the right of expressive association is unprotected if the association departs from officially sanctioned orthodoxy.

In wiser moments, the court has held that “this freedom to gather in association . . . necessarily presupposes the freedom to identify the people who constitute the association and to limit the association to those people only.” In 1984, William Brennan, the court’s leading liberal of the last half-century, said:

“There can be no clearer example of an intrusion into the internal structure or affairs of an association than a regulation that forces the group to accept members it does not desire. Such a regulation may impair the ability of the original members to express only those views that brought them together. Freedom of association therefore plainly presupposes a freedom not to associate.”

As professor Michael McConnell of Stanford Law School says, “Not everything the government chooses to call discrimination is invidious; some of it is constitutionally protected First Amendment activity.” Whereas it is wrong for government to prefer one religion over another, when private persons and religious groups do so, this is the constitutionally protected free exercise of religion. So, McConnell says, “Preventing private groups from discriminating on the basis of shared beliefs is not only not a compelling governmental interest; it is not even a legitimate governmental interest.”

Here, however, is how progressivism limits freedom by abolishing the public-private distinction: First, a human right — to, say, engage in homosexual practices — is deemed so personal that government should have no jurisdiction over it. Next, this right breeds another right, to the support or approval of others. Finally, those who disapprove of it must be coerced.

Sound familiar? It should. First, abortion should be an individual’s choice. Then, abortion should be subsidized by government. Next, pro-life pharmacists who object to prescribing abortifacients should lose their licenses. Thus do rights shrink to privileges reserved for those with government-approved opinions.

The question, at Vanderbilt and elsewhere, should not be whether a particular viewpoint is right but whether an expressive association has a right to espouse it. Unfortunately, in the name of tolerance, what is tolerable is being defined ever more narrowly.

Although Vanderbilt is a private institution, its policy is congruent with “progressive” public policy, under which society shall be made to progress up from a multiplicity of viewpoints to a government-supervised harmony. Vanderbilt’s policy, formulated in the name of enlarging rights, is another skirmish in the progressives’ struggle to deny more and more social entities the right to deviate from government-promoted homogeneity of belief. Such compulsory conformity is, of course, enforced in the name of diversity.

I’m surprised by George Will. I always thought he was a moderate. But since I started writing this blog, I’ve been happy to see that he is a lot more conservative than people like Charles Krauthammer, Michael Barone, and other well-known moderate conservatives. I don’t require that he agree with me – I just want him to understand my views. And he does.

My Experience

When I’ve spent time talking to secular leftists in my office, they seem to have a horror of disagreements. They are desperate to make sure that everyone believes the same thing on every issue. The conversations typically proceed as follows:

  1. They express their view on some  subject and imply that it is the only intelligent view, since they learned it from their college professors.  (Evolution is a fact)
  2. I produce peer-reviewed experimental data that falsifies their view. (The synthesis of functional proteins by unintelligent forces is impossible)
  3. They try desperately to find some area that we agree on that is unrelated to my evidence. (But you agree that the Earth is older than 6,000 years, right?)

This is what the left means by diversity of opinion. Everyone has to agree, even if no one can prove that what is agreed to is actually true. They believe that rent controls doesn’t result in a shortage of affordable apartments, even though this is not what has been observed. They believe it because it sounds nice, and it makes people think that they are nice people. And they get very confused and flustered if you try to prove them wrong with evidence.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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