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Are Laws that Favor One Religion over Another a Violation of the First Amendment?

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posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 03:21 PM
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a reply to: Spiramirabilis
What about Conestoga Wood Specialties?

You should check out where all the drawer fronts and cabinet doors they make there are sold. You may be unwittingly supporting them when you go into your doctor's office or a restaurant. They supply those pieces to other cabinet manufacturers, so it may be difficult to track it all down.
They really are a Mennonite couple that own the company, and I don't think that they have friends in Washington.




posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 03:49 PM
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a reply to: Benevolent Heretic

A Supreme Court decision is often lengthy, involved, and confusing. For that reason a syllabus is often published by the Reporter of Decisions, not the Court.

What you called the Decision, and quoted from as the Court's ruling, was actually the syllabus.


The Supreme court granted an exemption to the contraceptive mandate.

From the Decision

Held: As applied to closely held corporations, the HHS regulations imposing the contraceptive mandate violate RFRA. Pp. 16–49.
...
)
HHS’s contraceptive mandate substantially burdens the exercise of religion. Pp. 31–38
...
The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga . . . would deny [their employees] access to contraceptive
coverage that the ACA would otherwise secure”)


Notice the one sentence which gives the holding? At the end of the sentence it says "Pp. 16-49" That's telling us that they condensed 33 pages of discussion into one sentence. To rely on that one sentence as the basis for an argument is extremely questionable.

The same is true of this sentence:

The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga . . . would deny [their employees] access to contraceptive coverage that the ACA would otherwise secure”
That, taken by itself, is seriously misleading.

Don't use the syllabus for a serious analysis, go to the opinion itself, as you have wisely advised. The court's decision was not based on the contraceptive mandate as a whole.



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 04:15 PM
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The Supreme Court sent three cases that were objecting to birth control on religious grounds back to the lower courts.

Supreme Court Expands Ruling to Lower Courts



The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday sent three cases involving companies seeking exemptions from the Obamacare law's birth control coverage requirement back to lower courts for further review based on its major ruling on the issue.

The court's action indicates that its ruling on Monday allows closely held companies to object on religious grounds to all forms of contraceptives covered by the birth control mandate in President Barack Obama's 2010 healthcare law.
...
In all three, the companies object to all use of contraception, unlike Hobby Lobby and Conestoga, which only objected to contraceptives they say are akin to abortion.

By declining to decide the cases separately, the court signaled that the ruling on Monday resolves all religious objections to the birth control mandate in favor of the companies.



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 04:17 PM
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a reply to: Benevolent Heretic

The first amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the other nine amendments of the Bill of Rights, applies specifically to the Federal Government. The US Congress can make no law establishing a religion or prohibiting the exercise of it, however, contrary to popular opinion, an individual state CAN establish a religion and even prohibit the exercise of a particular religion if it chose to do so. This was actually quite common in the early days of America, where a state, say Maryland, would make the official religion of the state Christianity, and anyone practicing anything other than the official religion would pay a tax to do so. Of course, this wouldn't be acceptable by today's standards of constitutional practice, mainly because of gross ignorance on the part of the general public regarding constitutional issues, as well as the elected officials not having any clue as to what their sworn oath actually represents.



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 04:19 PM
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originally posted by: charles1952
The court's decision was not based on the contraceptive mandate as a whole.


You're wrong. Before this case, Only non-profits and religious organizations were permitted an exemption to the Contraceptive Mandate. Hobby Lobby's case added "closely-held, for-profit businesses" (90% of US companies) to that list.
edit on 7/1/2014 by Benevolent Heretic because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 04:20 PM
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a reply to: charles1952

Charles, you're a smart guy and I respect your opinion. Can you give us your take on this issue?

I'm seeing this as a "slippery-slope" sort of decision where it can open up a variety of issues when it comes to law/regulation vs. religious belief.

Speak to me Charles.



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 04:31 PM
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originally posted by: charles1952
Don't use the syllabus for a serious analysis, go to the opinion itself, as you have wisely advised.


That IS the opinion. Page 7:



Opinion of the Court
NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D. C. 20543,
of any typographical or other formal errors, in order that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.


Page 8:



In holding that the HHS mandate is unlawful, we reject HHS’s argument that the owners of the companies forfeited all RFRA protection when they decided to organize their businesses as corporations rather than sole proprietorships or general partnerships. The plain terms of RFRA make it perfectly clear that Congress did not discriminate in this way against men and women who wish to run their businesses as for-profit corporations in the manner required by their religious beliefs.



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 04:38 PM
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originally posted by: butcherguy
a reply to: Spiramirabilis
What about Conestoga Wood Specialties?

You should check out where all the drawer fronts and cabinet doors they make there are sold. You may be unwittingly supporting them when you go into your doctor's office or a restaurant. They supply those pieces to other cabinet manufacturers, so it may be difficult to track it all down.
They really are a Mennonite couple that own the company, and I don't think that they have friends in Washington.



A little tongue in cheek - and not as literal as you'd like it :-)

Or, is it? Corporations are people now - and, in fact - the corporation these days does seem to have some friends in very high places - sweet Mennonite couple or no

As far as my possibly supporting the company (unwittingly) in their wood-working endeavors...I have to wonder - do they mind making money from people that use contraceptives - or is that different somehow?

I want to be clear about one thing - I get conscientious objection

I can support it and even applaud it even when I don't agree with the specifics. This ain't that

What's next? Will they also be able to fire people that use contraception? Not hire people that use it? How much freedom does a person with religious beliefs have in this country? Is it the same amount of freedom as everybody else has - or is their delicate condition somehow special - permitting them privileges the rest of us can't get away with because we don't have spirits, gnomes or fairy dust making our decisions for us?

Seems to me that if you don't believe in contraception - you just don't use it. You know - as a person



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 05:48 PM
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a reply to: sheepslayer247 and BenevolentHeretic

Gentlemen,

(All right, SheepSlayer 247, I'll take the lead on this one for Wed. if no one else wants it.)

On ATS, many members say they want to see the study, or the source, before they make up their minds. That's almost always a good thing. I heartily approve. In this case, BenevolentHeretic, neither NewsMax nor the syllabus is the source. I'm sorry to sound so obvious, but to find out what the Court said, you have to read what the Court said.

Dear BenevolentHeretic, for you the issue seems to be whether the entire contraceptive mandate was on trial.


The owners of the businesses have religious objections to abortion, and according to their religious beliefs the four contraceptive methods at issue are abortifacients.



Although many of the required, FDA-approved methods of contraception work by preventing the fertilization of an egg, four of those methods (those specifically at issue in these cases) may have the effect of preventing an already fertilized egg from developing any further by inhibiting its attachment to the uterus.



The Hahns and Conestoga sued HHS and other federal officials and agencies under RFRA and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, seeking to enjoin application of ACA's contraceptive mandate insofar as is it requires them to provide health-insurance coverage for four FDA-approved contraceptives that may operate after the fertilization of an egg.


www.supremecourt.gov...

If you want more, they're there, but I thought that would be sufficient to show that the Court is not dealing with the mandate as a whole, but just four methods out of twenty.

Dear SheepSlayer247, (When will you disclose to the breathless ATS members who are awaiting your full disclosure of what you do to those poor, innocent sheep.) my opinion on the decision as a whole, is that it was well reasoned and dealt with the objections raised by the dissent and by angry ATSers.

As I pointed out to BenevolentHeretic, the companies involved were mightily miffed by being told that they had to support what they saw as abortions, or be fined out of business. They weren't objecting to paying for the 16 other methods of birth control, just those four.

The Court asked if HHS could mandate these "treatments" in the way that they did without violating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. They answered by saying "Nope." HHS was violating the law.

To get there, The Court had several hurdles to clear first. The first of these hurdles was whether the regulation substantially burdened the free exercise of religion. As Hobby Lobby was facing fines of just under a half-billion dollars a year, the Court had no trouble in finding that they were being seriously burdened. Their opposition to abortion and abortion causing devices and drugs was found to be a based on a religious belief.

The Court noted that a substantial burden could be legal under RFRA it it served a compelling government interest. The Court raised no objection to the idea that it did.

But, to survive under RFRA, the mandate had to be the least restrictive means of serving that interest. Here, the Court said, "You guys screwed up royal." (That's a paraphrase.) "You've already set up a system to serve religious non-profits with similar objections, why don't you just allow religious for-profits to get in on the same deal? Or, are you just a bunch of power hungry, control freaks?" (That's another paraphrase.)

After telling the world what the Court was doing (Declaring that portion of the mandate illegal), they went on to say what they weren't doing. They weren't holding that any corporation could opt out of any law that conflicted with their religious belief, or that imposed disadvantages on others or that require the public to pick up the tab. (Page 3 of the decision)

You are right, SheepSlayer247, to worry about the slippery slope effects. In the 60s and 70s the Court handed down decisions on this question. As a response to these decisions Congress passed RFRA in 1993.

RFRA said that government shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion unless there is a compelling government interest and the government uses the least restrictive measures.

The decision went on to deal with objections and clarifications, but basically all they said was that in respect to these four abortifacient methods, HHS broke the law in RFRA by imposing the mandate.

I don't see slippery slope as a problem, but I might be missing something. RFRA allows the government to burden or prevent religious practice if they have a compelling interest and use the least restrictive measures.

It's really a pretty narrow holding. I honestly think the uproar is because "Birth Control" is part of the discussion. A lot of people stop thinking when birth control or abortion is mentioned.

With respect,
Charles1952



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 06:15 PM
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Thank you, Charles1952.

Actually, the union decision was a much bigger loss as far as the leftist agenda is concerned.



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 06:26 PM
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a reply to: ketsuko

Dear ketsuko,

I agree with you. The Hobby Lobby case is mostly symbolic, except that it serves as a reminder to the government that it can't do whatever it wants to whomever it wants. It is a philosophic victory, one which says the Constitution still exists and will be enforced by the Court, if by no one else.

But the Union decision really hurts. They have been having a difficult time keeping any members from private industry. They grow only in government jobs. The failure to get home health care workers means they'll have to find some other approach to getting more union employees in government jobs.

It was a doubtful strategy to get home health care workers classified as government employees. Now that that's gone, and they can't demand dues money, I'm not sure where they'll go.

With respect,
Charles1952



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 06:48 PM
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Yes they are, as we do not have a national religon, and the important part is a guaranteed Seperation of Church and State. Now the point that a lot of people seem to be missing is that Hobby Lobby, being a for profit corporation, is making more money off of the contraceptive products by not being covered by health care providers, whom would normally cover most to all of the costs of said products, being that the ones that are no longer covered are the products that are in the highest demand.



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 06:49 PM
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a reply to: charles1952
No joy in Mudville tonight

or something

:-)



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 07:17 PM
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originally posted by: butcherguy

originally posted by: Benevolent Heretic
a reply to: butcherguy

The Supreme court granted an exemption to the contraceptive mandate.

Most contraceptives in the Hobby Lobby case will still be provided by Hobby Lobby and are therefore not affected. That's what USA today is saying.

From the Decision



Held: As applied to closely held corporations, the HHS regulations imposing the contraceptive mandate violate RFRA. Pp. 16–49.
...
)
HHS’s contraceptive mandate substantially burdens the exercise of religion. Pp. 31–38
...
The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga . . . would deny [their employees] access to contraceptive
coverage that the ACA would otherwise secure”)


The SCOTUS ruled on what the plaintiff brought forward, nothing else.

If some other company wants to be exempted for something other than the four in the suit, they need to bring it up through the courts in another suit.... unless of course Emperor Obama decides to change the law... which he likes to do.

Unlike the Court that changed the law in favor of religion which goes directly against the first amendment.The minute they said they wanted the law changed because of their religion the case should have been thrown out of court.



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 07:26 PM
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a reply to: Benevolent Heretic

I'm showing up a little late in this conversation and I haven't yet read through all the post but regarding the OP, I couldn't agree more! I've been telling my wife the very same thing every since the ruling came out. As a matter of fact, the first words out of my mouth were: "I wonder if any SCOTUS has ever reversed a previous SCOTUS ruling on the grounds that it was an unconstitutional ruling."

I don't see how this can be viewed any other way! The manner in which the ruling is narrowly worded to protect one religion's objections while specifically stating that it would not be applicable to known objections of other religions, IMO is a clear violation of the First Amendment. As a matter of fact, I don't think the court could have constructed a more obvious violation if they were specifically tasked to do so. It's like this decision was created for the sole purpose of violating the First Amendment!

I could understand if they were to have issued a broad ruling protecting the religious rights of corporate business owners regardless of religion. I wouldn't agree with it but I could see how our current SCOTUS could have ruled that way. Especially in light of the "Citizens United" ruling giving them personhood.

I could understand and would have agreed if they had ruled that corporations do NOT have religious rights protected under the constitution, but they didn't.

But when they ruled that the objections of one religion were protected while the objections of other religions were not, I was flabbergasted! I just couldn't believe what I was hearing!

I always thought that the SCOTUS was supposed to decide if the actions of others had violated the constitution and I never expected that they themselves, would be the ones who's actions turned out to be a direct violation of the document. Wow! Just Wow!

F&S and
for the OP!



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 08:15 PM
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a reply to: charles1952

Hi Charles,



but I thought that would be sufficient to show that the Court is not dealing with the mandate as a whole, but just four methods out of twenty.


Really? That's not what I get from reading your link. Looks to me like the ruling addresses the entire contraception mandate. Clearly, the court ruled on belief, not science. Belief of "sin" is enough for exemption, not the quality of the science. The Court didn't specify which contraception methods an offended employer may or may not exclude. As a matter of fact they purposely left that vague. Any or all contraception may be denied.



This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to hold that all insurance-coverage mandates, e.g. for vaccinations or blood transfusions, must necessarily fall if they conflict with an employer’s religious beliefs. Nor does it provide a shield for employers who might cloak illegal discrimination as a religious practice


I find this clause to be especially offensive.


The belief of the Hahns and Greens implicates a difficult and important question of religion and moral philosophy, namely, the circumstances under which it is immoral for a person to perform an act that is innocent in itself but that has the effect of enabling or facilitating the commission of an immoral act by another. It is not for the Court to say that the religious beliefs of the plaintiffs are mistaken or unreasonable.


I call extreme BS! This is ludicrous and insulting. They need a special religious exemption to stop their employee from sinning!

Clearly, the court upheld the Hahn's and the Green's archaic paranoia that they can't control or trust their employees to make correct decisions on their own. They've pre-judged their employees and assumed an authoritative moral position over their self determinism. To gain control over them, they've sought out a legal recourse to create burden, limit access and create obstacles in their path to access to legal contraception, of which they disapprove.

The idea that an employer should be able to strong arm a women's choice, based on the fear that not doing so is somehow sinning themselves, betrays this court's obvious bias against women's integrity.

I can't believe that America has come to this, where birth control issues can become part of a job interview, where women have to get permission from their boss to access legal birth control.




posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 10:40 PM
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a reply to: windword

Dear windword,

It is a joy to see you. In our conversations I believe that, while either one of us may be wrong, neither of us is trolling or playing games. So, let's talk on a serious level.

First, whether it is the whole contraceptive mandate or just those four abortifacient devices. Please remember that the Court likes to make as narrow a ruling as it can. It is (or should be) unhappy making decisions on questions that weren't presented to it.

Besides, read it as though it were literature or any normal writing. "No, we're not talking about vaccination mandates or transfusion mandates, or anything else relating to insurance. We're just looking at the contraceptive mandate." (A papraphrase) And I can hear them saying "That within the contraceptive mandate, we are looking only at the four abortifacients that the plaintiffs mentioned in their complaint."

That just make sense to me. I quoted these things from the opinion.

Although many of the required, FDA-approved methods of contraception work by preventing the fertilization of an egg, four of those methods (those specifically at issue in these cases) may have the effect of preventing an already fertilized egg from developing any further by inhibiting its attachment to the uterus.


The Hahns and Conestoga sued HHS and other federal officials and agencies under RFRA and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, seeking to enjoin application of ACA's contraceptive mandate insofar as is it requires them to provide health-insurance coverage for four FDA-approved contraceptives that may operate after the fertilization of an egg.


When the Court says "Those specifically at issue in these cases," they are saying as clearly as any lawyer can say anything, that those four were the question, those were what they considered, and the question is resolved as to those four.

You developed your second point at greater length, and it's pretty interesting. I'm looking at the quote you find ludicrous and insulting. There was more to the paragraph than just those words however. The rest of that paragraph (and the one before) should soothe you somewhat. I can give you the full quote, but you might prefer a summary.

The Court notes that the HHS says the mandate is not a substantial burden on the exercise of religion, because simply buying coverage for the abortifacients should distance the company from any religious problems. The Court says they're dodging the real question and are addressing the question of whether the plaintiff's religious beliefs are reasonable.

The Court continues by saying that is not a call for HHS to make, and that for decades the Court has refused to let the government make laws assuming that any person's religious belief is unreasonable. HHS wants the Court to say that the beliefs are unreasonable, but the Court responds with "No way, Jose. We ain't doin' none of that." (Paraphrase)

Does it make more sense now?

Even if Hobby Lobby had no employees and was just starting up, the reasoning would be the same. The mandate to pay for these abortifacients violates the RFRA, and is therefore illegal.

As for the rest of your post, you do know that Hobby Lobby was already covering 16 of the 20 FDA-approved birth control methods. I'm afraid your anger, which I can understand in such an important issue, got the better of you.

With respect,
Charles1952



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 10:43 PM
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a reply to: Flatfish

I don't understand you. The Court simply said that the mandate, as considered in this particular case (4 out of 20 contraceptive methods) violated a federal law, and was thus void.

Where are you getting all of this unconstitutional stuff from?



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 10:47 PM
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a reply to: buster2010

Dear buster2010,

This may be redundant, but I think it's worth the effort.

HHS issued a mandate which violated a federal law. The plaintiffs complained to the Court, the Court agreed and a small portion of one mandate was set aside.

I don't know why your so upset.



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 11:20 PM
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a reply to: charles1952




The Court simply said that the mandate, as considered in this particular case (4 out of 20 contraceptive methods) violated a federal law, and was thus void.


I think that you're be very disingenuous here. The Court did not rule on any contraceptive methods, in and of themselves, violating a federal law. Both sides presented their case. Hobby Lobby, et al, presented their objection to the ACA/HHS and presented their case as to why their rights were violated, by invoking the federal law.

SCOTUS didn't rule on contraception at all. Contraception isn't against any law. Scotus ruled on the right to hold a belief, not on whether or not a belief is true or correct.

Clearly, this ruling effects the entire mandate, not just 4 methods of birth control.



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