Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

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.

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Great news: Supreme Court declines to hear appeal of Texas ban on late-term abortions

Life News reports.

Excerpt:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia issued an opinion today indicating the Supreme Court will not get involved in a case out of Texas that has abortion facilities there appealing a law that has closed numerous abortion clinics that can’t protect women’s health.

In a big victory for pro-life advocates in Texas earlier this month, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Lee Yeakel of the Western District Court in Austin and restored key portions of a pro-life law in Texas that will ultimately stop abortions and could close abortion clinics. Abortion clinics appealed that decision to the Supreme Court and Justice Scalia issued a ruling today saying the high court will not get involved.

“The underlying legal question — whether the new Texas statute is constitutional — is a difficult question. It is a question, I believe, that at least four members of this court will wish to consider irrespective of the 5th Circuit’s ultimate decision,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote with Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito concurring. “I would maintain the status quo while the lower courts consider this difficult, sensitive, and controversial legal matter.”

The justices voted 5-4 to leave Texas’ pro-life provisions in place and the four Democrat-appointed pro-abortion justices all voted to overturn the pro-life measure. Justice Stephen Breyer write a dissenting opinion saying he expected the case to return to the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy did not join an opinion or write their own, but they sided with Scalia, Thomas and Alito.

So the pro-life side wins, for now. All five Republican-appointed judges sided with Texas. But that decision could change if we elect another Democrat to be President and the balance of the Supreme Court changes to be more pro-abortion. For example, Hillary Clinton is almost as pro-abortion as Obama is, and she would definitely appoint pro-abortion judges.

However there was some bad news in Texas to spoil the good news:

A grant from the Obama administration is allowing the Planned Parenthood abortion business to reopen a clinic in Texas it closed after the passage of new pro-life laws there.

Planned Parenthood has closed a number of clinics after Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law a bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks and holds abortion facilities accountable for higher health and safety standards. Other clinics closed after Perry signed a bill to stop taxpayer funding for the abortion giant.

But now, thanks to federal funding, a Planned Parenthood clinic will reopen in Mission, Texas that has been closed for two years.

The Obama administration is the most radically pro-abortion we’ve ever had. They have no qualms at all about about using the tax dollars of pro-lifers to fund organizations that provide abortions.

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D.C. Court of Appeals strikes down HHS abortion / birth control mandate

The Hill reports.

Excerpt:

A federal appeals court on Friday struck down the birth control mandate in ObamaCare, concluding the requirement trammels religious freedom.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — the second most influential bench in the land behind the Supreme Court — ruled 2-1 in favor of business owners who are fighting the requirement that they provide their employees with health insurance that covers birth control.

Requiring companies to cover their employees’ contraception, the court ruled, is unduly burdensome for business owners who oppose birth control on religious grounds, even if they are not purchasing the contraception directly.

“The burden on religious exercise does not occur at the point of contraceptive purchase; instead, it occurs when a company’s owners fill the basket of goods and services that constitute a healthcare plan,” Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote on behalf of the court.

Legal analysts expect the Supreme Court to ultimately pick up an appeal on the birth-control requirement and make a final decision on its constitutionality.

Hey, there’s Janice Rogers Brown – she was my second favorite pick for Supreme Court justices back when Bush chose that squish John Roberts. At least Alito was a good pick. My favorite two choices would be Edith H. Jones and Janice Rogers Brown.

More from the article:

In the meantime, Republicans in Congress have pushed for a conscience clause that would allow employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage for moral or religious reasons.

The measure emerged most recently during negotiations to fund the federal government. Some House Republicans wanted to include the conscience clause in a legislative package ending the government shutdown.

The split ruling against the government on Friday was the latest in a string of court cases challenging the healthcare law’s mandate.

Friday’s ruling centered on two Catholic brothers, Francis and Philip Gilardi, who own a 400-person produce company based in Ohio.

The brothers oppose contraception as part of their religion and challenged the Affordable Care Act provision requiring them to provide insurance that covers their employees’ birth control.

Refusing to abide by the letter of the law, they said, would result in a $14 million fine.

“They can either abide by the sacred tenets of their faith, pay a penalty of over $14 million, and cripple the companies they have spent a lifetime building, or they become complicit in a grave moral wrong,” Brown wrote.

The Obama administration said that the requirement is necessary to protect women’s right to decide whether and when to have children.

The judges were unconvinced, however, that forcing companies to cover contraception protected that right.

Brown wrote that “it is clear the government has failed to demonstrate how such a right — whether described as noninterference, privacy, or autonomy — can extend to the compelled subsidization of a woman’s procreative practices.”

She added that denying coverage of contraception would not undermine the Affordable Care Act’s requirements that health insurance provide preventative care.

It’s very important that people who favor big government solutions understand that a secular government is never going to recognize the rights of Christians as they take over more and more of the private sector economy. I am in favor of real care for people who have unexpected health care costs – like rare diseases and drunk drivers. We should give every citizen a voucher to purchase insurance that protects them from conditions that are not related to their own choices. But contraceptives and abortions are not unexpected – they are deliberate choices. People should have to pay for their own choices – not shove the costs on the rest of us who don’t even agree with those behaviors. You can see how far this goes in countries like Canada – which covers IVF, sex changes and abortions. And the UK, which covers IVF, sex changes and breast enlargements. Is that health care? Shouldn’t we have the right to opt out of paying for that for other people?

If liberals are so keen on paying for other people’s condoms and abortions, then why don’t they do it with their own money? I’m chaste. Why should I have to pay for these things for other people and give up my own plans and dreams?

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Obama administration files papers to take Hobby Lobby to Supreme Court

From Life News.

Excerpt:

The Obama administration today filed papers taking the Christian craft store Hobby Lobby to the Supreme Court to make it comply with the HHS mandate that compels religious companies to pay for birth control and abortion-causing drugs for their employees.

In July, a federal court granted Hobby Lobby a preliminary injunction against the HHS abortion-drug mandate. The injunction prevented the Obama administration from enforcing the mandate against the Christian company, but the Obama administration appealed that ruling today. The government’s appeal makes it highly likely that the Supreme Court will decide the issue in the upcoming term.

“The United States government is taking the remarkable position that private individuals lose their religious freedom when they make a living,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead lawyer for Hobby Lobby. “We’re confident that the Supreme Court will reject the government’s extreme position and hold that religious liberty is for everyone—including people who run a business.”

Duncan said the appeals court victory for Hobby Lobby this summer had the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rejecting the Obama administration’s argument that the Green family and their family-owned businesses, Hobby Lobby and a Christian bookstore chain named Mardel, could not legally exercise their religious views. The court further said the businesses were likely to win their challenge to the HHS mandate.

The government’s petition comes the same day as a petition in Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius, another case involving a challenge to the HHS mandate.

The court will consider the government’s petition in the next six weeks. If the petition is granted, the case would be argued and decided before the end of the Court’s term in June.

So now you know what “pro-choice” really means. It means force Christians to pay for drugs that kill unborn babies, against their consciences. It means fascism. Using the power of government to compel people to act against their consciences.

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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.

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