Supreme Court may have a solution for Obamacare mandate

The Supreme Court unanimously agreed to send the lawsuit from religious organizations objecting to the Obamacare contraceptive requirement back to a lower court.  Apparently, the justices think they have found a solution that would prevent the religious groups from feeling “complicit in sin” by notifying the government about their objections, so as to force their insurance companies to provide the coverage for free.  The solution seems to be (this hasn’t been made explicit) to have the employees, rather than the organization, ask for the coverage. [Read more…]

Exemptions for corporations, but not religious groups

The federal government insists that the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious groups enable their insurance companies to provide contraceptives for their employees.   There is to be no religious exemption, and yet big corporations like Pepsi, Visa, Exxon, and Chevron are exempt from the requirement.  This is because their existing plans have been grandfathered in under Obamacare.  In fact, as many as a third of Americans are in plans that are exempt from the mandate.  So in what sense is providing free contraception such a compelling government interest that it overrides religious liberty?

This point came out in the Supreme Court arguments in Zubik v. Burwell, involving not only the Little Sisters of the Poor but also over 30 other religious non-profits that have joined the case.

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Supreme Court to rule on sinning vs. causing others to sin

Tomorrow the short-handed Supreme Court will hear arguments on the case brought by the Little Sisters of the Poor on whether they should be forced to go through the paperwork so that their employees can get free contraception and abortifacients under Obamacare.

The government says that the Roman Catholic nuns aren’t being forced to provide contraception.  Rather, they just have to declare that they are opting out so that their insurance company can provide the services for free.  Since they aren’t paying for the pills and devices, argues the government, they aren’t violating their religious beliefs.

But that shows complete ignorance of Roman Catholic moral theology.  For one thing, the morality of an action depends, in part, on the intention.  In this case, the intention of filing the paperwork would be to let employees commit a grave sin.  Also, it isn’t just sinful if an individual does something wrong.  Causing someone else to sin can be even worse. [Read more…]

Exemptions on moral, as well as religious grounds

Religious organizations can get an exemption from Obamacare’s birth control mandate.  But opposition to contraception and embracing a pro-life philosophy are matters of moral conviction, not just religious conviction.  What about an organization whose stance is based on moral reasoning, rather than religious doctrine?

March for Life is a secular organization, so a judge had ruled that it cannot be exempt from the Obamacare mandate.  But a federal judge threw out that decision, saying that moral objections can carry the same weight as religious convictions.

People are always confusing religion and morality, as if they were the same thing, or as if moral decisions are always religious decisions, and vice versa.  They are related, to be sure, but in the case of Christianity, which affirms both realms, the religious part is not so much about being moral as with finding forgiveness for NOT being moral.

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The administrative state

Mollie Hemingway at the Federalist just rips to shreds the Obamacare contraceptive mandate.  In the course of doing so, she points to an overarching problem:  The establishment of the administrative state, in which Constitutional government is replaced by administrative agencies, which have the power to make laws, enforce them, and judge and punish those who do not comply.  That is to say, we now have bureaucracies that have legislative, executive, and judicial power. [Read more…]

The revised contraceptive mandate

In response to the Supreme Court decision that the Obamacare contraception mandate can violate the religious liberty of pro-life business owners, the administration has issued new regulations that would allow employees to get free birth control–including those that prevent the implantation of the fertilized egg–without violating the religious convictions of employers.

See the details after the jump.  Does this solve the problem? [Read more…]