The Week in Review – Law and Atheism 11/15/2012

The Week in Review – Law and Atheism 11/15/2012 November 15, 2012

Another week, another legal roundup.

  • I’m not sure whether an upvote or a downvote is due to the University of Louisville Hospital and University Medical Center for its new arrangement with the Catholic Health Initiatives. Financially it will be good. Whether reproductive health care will suffer for it is another issue entirely. There has been drama for about two years over the attempts by the university’s president to merge the public hospital and medical center with CHI. Kentucky’s governor ultimately rejected a year ago saying that “The risks to the public outweigh the potential benefits.” The merger also would have included a Jewish hospital in Louisville. The current arrangement, which is a joint operating agreement and not a merger, apparently preserves the women’s reproductive health care services that CHI would have restricted considerably. Other Catholic hospitals are moving to join operations with public hospitals, including one in Little Rock, Arkansas. It remains to be seen whether women’s reproductive health care will be affected.

  The United Nations gets an upvote for yesterday’s announcement that access to contraception is a universal human right. Take that, Pope Benedict!

Egypt is still busily prosecuting Alber Saber, the guy who was accused of spreading The Innocence of Muslims – that ridiculous movie that may have helped escalate the Benghazi attacks to the level of Major International Incident – and other irreligious stuff on his Facebook page. He faces up to five years in prison for his crime of blasphemy if he is found guilty. According to his defense team, a confession was tortured out of him, his laptop was seized without a warrant, and the police allowed him to be assaulted while in their custody after his arrest in September. The trial is over, and briefs have been submitted to the court. A decision is expected November 28.

In fairness, it’s hardly news that the Catholic bishops in the United States are resisting the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Or that they are dancing jigs over the defeat of Massachusetts’ Death with Dignity Act. After all, it’s not God’s plan that we control our own lives and bodies. In an interview with the National Catholic Register, Richard Doerflinger, who is the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, set out the Catholic strategy for imposing religion on people stuck with getting their health insurance through Catholic employers. Looks like we, in addition to people who don’t think employers should be allowed to impose their religion on employees, ought to take the same page from the Catholic playbook and do the same. Write your congressman, just like Doerflinger suggests.

President Obama, for appointing new federal judges who reflect the diversity of American culture, including an openly gay candidate.

  Sikhs are so peaceful, it’s hard to think their brand of religion is bad, right? Well, not so much. At a Sikh shrine in California, violence erupted this week between two rival groups wanting control of the religious site. These Sikhs have been fighting in court as well as in the streets for control of the place of worship. Lovely.

Mike Huckabee thinks we’re idiots. His appearance on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart Monday night had me seeing red – as in red-state Republican, bloody damn preacher in politics scaring the shit out of those gullible people who think they will burn in hell for not voting the way the Bible tells them to. I ranted about this already, so I won’t repeat myself here. (Shameless plug.)

Federal Courts. Free speech for one group equates free speech for all, they said when the Islamophobic American Freedom Defense Initiative sued to get pro-Christian, pro-Israel, Anti-Islam ads put on buses in D.C. and New York. The ads are now running on Chicago buses, and the Southern Poverty Law Center has noted the ad campaign in its Hatewatch Headlines. AFDI is headed by Pam Geller, who fervently believes Barack Obama is beholden to his Islamic overlords and is the love child of Malcolm X. Yes, it’s best we know who the hate groups are, no matter who they hate, than to have them work in secret where we can’t see them.

Pakistan, which has sentenced a 25 year old man, Hazrat Ali Shah, to die for blasphemy. Rimsha Masih, the impoverished, illiterate little girl who was accused of blasphemy for burning pages of the Koran in an effort to keep warm, still awaits her blasphemy trial.

I’m still breathing heavy over FFRF’s lawsuit filed yesterday against the IRS. I can hardly think I’m so excited! How many upvotes can I give FFRF in one day? Am I limited?



And, no, it’s not law-related, but did you guys see the Washington post article about The Friendly Atheist Hemant Mehta and teenage atheist hero Jessica Ahlquist at Skepticon? The more coverage atheists and atheism get in the mainstream popular media for good stuff, the better!



Got a legal question? Email me at I’m a lawyer, but there’s only a 2% chance I’m licensed in your state. Whether I answer your question or not, sending me an email or reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. You can see my regular blog at, where I write book reviews, ruminate on Life, the Universe, and Everything, and occasionally – frequently – rant about Stuff.

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