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  1. #1
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    Supreme Court Watch 2013-2014

    Happy 1st Monday of October, all. Today opens the 2013-2014 term of the US Supreme Court.

    Among the hot-button cases on the docket for this term:

    1) Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action - Whether a state violates the Equal Protection Clause by amending its constitution to prohibit race- and sex-based discrimination or preferential treatment in public-university admission decisions.

    2) McCutcheon v. FEC - Constitutionality of a two-year ceiling on individual campaign donations to federal candidates and political committees.

    3) Town of Greece, New York, v. Galloway - Public prayer in town meetings. The board of the town has always opened its public meeting with a prayer.

    4) NLRB v. Noel Canning - The validity of President Obama's recess appointments to a federal agency.

    5) Liberty University v. Lew; Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.; Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius - A provision in the new healthcare reform law requiring companies and institutions of a certain size to provide insurance coverage for birth control and other reproductive health services without a co-pay. Can private employers refuse on the claim it violates their religious freedoms?

    6) National Rifle Association v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Appeal of a federal law banning sales of handguns to minors by licensed firearms dealers. NRA challenging because 18-20 year olds are classified as "minors" under the law.

    7) Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice - State discretion to limit or ban abortions performed with medicine, instead of surgery.

    8) U.S. v. Wurie and Riley v. California - Separate appeals over whether police must obtain a warrant to search data on the cellphone of a person under arrest.

    9) Elane Photography, LLC v. Willock Whether private businesses can refuse-- on personal religious grounds-- to offer services typically available to the general public. (In this case, a small Albuquerque photography studio refused to film a lesbian couple's commitment ceremony, saying it violated their religious beliefs)

    More on each of these cases at: http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/06/politi...ses/?hpt=ju_c2
    With Lucas Pouille at Indian Wells (2018)

  2. #2
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2013-2014

    Like Scalia or not, he probably is the least uncensored of the nine Supremes, and generally says one or two interesting (read: controversial) things in an interview. And this one, published in today's New York Magazine is no excption. The interviewer asks tough questions, and Scalia takes them all on. I disagree with him on 90% + of his views, but I always respected the fact that he does not hide, or cower in the face of opposing views.

    http://nymag.com/news/features/antonin-scalia-2013-10/
    Last edited by Moose; 10-07-2013 at 06:34 AM.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2013-2014

    Justices will hear contraception challenge to Obamacare
    Richard Wolf, USA TODAY 12:54 p.m. EST November 26, 2013
    Religious cases are among dozens challenging the health care law's mandate that insurance plans offer free coverage of contraceptives.

    WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court added a new legal challenge Tuesday to the legislative and political battles raging over President Obama's embattled health care law.

    The justices agreed to consider whether for-profit corporations whose owners oppose abortion on religious grounds must abide by the law's mandate that health insurance policies include free coverage of government-approved forms of contraception.

    It's the first legal challenge to reach the high court since it upheld the law 17 months ago in a 5-4 decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts. While a loss for the government wouldn't strike down the law itself, conservatives still seething over Roberts' rescue of Obamacare say the case offers Roberts an initial chance to rule against it.

    Beyond its attachment to the health care law, however, the legal challenge is significant in its own right because it will answer a fundamental question with far-reaching consequences: Can corporations pray? Until now, no court has granted religious rights under the First Amendment's "free exercise clause" to for-profit businesses.

    The corporations whose lawsuits were chosen over some 40 others say, in essence, that they do pray. The cases were filed by Hobby Lobby, a chain of more than 500 arts-and-crafts stores with about 13,000 full-time employees, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Lancaster, Pa., woodworking business run by a Mennonite family.

    Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma City-based company founded by David Green in 1970, closes on Sundays and funnels millions of dollars in profits to ministries. Its website proclaims its commitment to "honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles."

    To avoid promoting alcohol, for instance, Hobby Lobby doesn't sell shot glasses. And to avoid promoting abortion, it doesn't cover drugs or devices which it claims are capable of terminating a pregnancy, including the morning-after pill known as "Plan B." The government says none of the mandated drugs are abortifacients.

    Norman and Elizabeth Hahn operate Conestoga Wood with their three sons, and they "integrate their faith into their daily lives, including their work," says their brief to the high court.

    "Both cases represent a broad diversity in which families in America practice their faith as they try to earn a living, all the way from Mennonites making wood cabinets to the Green family operating a chain store," said Matt Bowman of Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Conestoga.

    The health care law says companies with 50 or more workers that offer health insurance must cover contraceptives as part of a preventive care package for women. Churches and other houses of worship were excluded from the mandate, and some religious institutions, such as universities, were allowed to have insurers offer the benefit directly.

    "We believe this requirement is lawful and essential to women's health and are confident the Supreme Court will agree," White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday. "These steps protect both women's health and religious beliefs, and seek to ensure that women and families -- not their bosses or corporate CEOs -- can make personal health decisions based on their needs and their budgets."

    The law's defenders say the exclusions should not extend to corporations like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. "Corporations don't pray … they don't have a religious conscience," says David Gans of the Constitutional Accountability Center, a liberal law firm and advocacy group. "These are all human attributes that don't apply to corporations."

    Combined with smaller companies and those who did not change their insurance plans since the law was implemented, up to one-third of Americans are covered by exempt plans. But larger for-profit corporations must comply or face fines of $100 per day per employee, which could total $475 million a year in Hobby Lobby's case. An alternative -- dropping employee health insurance altogether -- would cost $26 million in annual penalties.

    Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood and many other companies that have challenged the contraception mandate say that's a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed by Congress in 1993 to protect "a person's exercise of religion" from government intrusion. Some of the cases also raise constitutional challenges as well.

    "As the federal government embarks on an unprecedented foray into health care replete with multiple overlapping mandates, few issues are more important than the extent to which the government must recognize and accommodate the religious exercise of those it regulates," Hobby Lobby argues in its brief.

    MORE: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/p...ation/3700813/
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  4. #4

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2013-2014

    This Court has already said that corporations are people. Since people, live breathing walking around people are entitled to religious freedom isn't the logical conclusion that corporations have the right to religious freedom as well? Declaring corporations people was a dangerous precedent. This decision will be interesting to say the least.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2013-2014

    Quote Originally Posted by Ti-Amie View Post
    This Court has already said that corporations are people. Since people, live breathing walking around people are entitled to religious freedom isn't the logical conclusion that corporations have the right to religious freedom as well? Declaring corporations people was a dangerous precedent. This decision will be interesting to say the least.
    And I think this is only one of a few religious freedom/Obamacare cases the Court will be taking up by year's end. You still have the Little Sisters of the Poor and other groups who while operating non-profit businesses in accordance with their faith aren't deemed "religious employers" under the law. That whole series of cases are still in the lower courts.
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  6. #6

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2013-2014

    This woman (+1) lists a whole series of "what if's"

    Jill Filipovic ‏@JillFilipovic 17m
    What if your employer doesn't believe in modern medicine at all & thinks we heal with prayer? Can they refuse employees health care?

    Amanda Marcotte ‏@AmandaMarcotte 17m
    What if your boss opposes "Western medicine" and refuses to cover your kids vaccinations and insists you go to a homeopath?

    Jill Filipovic ‏@JillFilipovic 16m
    What if your employer doesn't believe in psychiatric care? No mental health care coverage?

    Jill Filipovic ‏@JillFilipovic 18m
    What if your blood transfusions violate your employer's religious beliefs? No surgery coverage?

    Jill Filipovic ‏@JillFilipovic 22m
    What if your for-profit employer believes that AIDS is God's punishment for being gay? Can they opt out of paying for HIV care?

    Jill Filipovic ‏@JillFilipovic 23m
    What if your employer thinks Jews are Christ-killers or black people have the mark of Cain?

    Jill Filipovic ‏@JillFilipovic 25m
    What if your for-profit employer believes women should be in the home & under the cover of a man? No health care for women at all?
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  7. #7

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2013-2014

    There's a reason the Founding Fathers wanted a separation between church and state.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  8. #8
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2013-2014

    What if you have to spend $4.00/$9.00 out of your own pocket for a month of birth control?
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  9. #9
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2013-2014

    Rachel Held Evans, who still identifies as an evangelical has spoken out as well. I would argue there's nothing new about #2. Not sure why she thinks it is.
    *****

    Okay, since the HHS mandate is back in the news again, I’ve got two questions:


    1. If the owner of a company can make decisions regarding the healthcare coverage of his/her employees based on religious conviction, what’s to keep an employer who is Jehovah’s Witness from refusing to cover blood transfusions or an employer who is a scientologist to refuse to cover any costs related to mental health? How is it preserving “religious liberty” to allow employers to impose their religious convictions onto their employees regarding what they can purchase with their compensation?

    2. I can’t for the life of me understand this new evangelical preoccupation with birth control. Providing easier/cheaper access to birth control has been shown to dramatically decreases abortions, so it seems like this would be something we pro-lifers would want to support. If cheaper birth control would decrease abortions, why wouldn’t Christians support it?

    http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/hhs-religious-freedom

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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2013-2014

    Quote Originally Posted by dryrunguy View Post
    If cheaper birth control would decrease abortions, why wouldn’t Christians support it?
    Because artificial birth control is anathema to many religions, Dry. It's viewed as a violation of natural law.

    But I don't think they are saying others can't use it - just that they should not be held responsible for paying for it.
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2013-2014

    an FYI on the Hobby Lobby case - the owners of Hobby Lobby have no problem with paying for preventive contraception (birth control pills, diaphragms), and told the Lower Court that they have provided such coverage for years. Their dispute is with the requirement to provide coverage for the "morning-after" pill, which they claim to be an abortifacient, and that they would be violating their beliefs by paying for this coverage.
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  12. #12

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2013-2014

    Then there's this.

    Jessica Valenti ‏@JessicaValenti 1h
    When will companies that don't want to cover women's contraception file a suit refusing to cover unmarried dudes' Viagra? *waiting*
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  13. #13
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2013-2014

    Quote Originally Posted by Moose View Post
    Because artificial birth control is anathema to many religions, Dry. It's viewed as a violation of natural law.

    But I don't think they are saying others can't use it - just that they should not be held responsible for paying for it.
    And there it is.

    To deny a woman employment because she uses contraception would never stand up to constitutional scrutiny.

    At the risk of losing my Liberal Membership Card, and speaking as the Atheist I am, I don't see how an employer should be made to pay for contraception coverage if it violates their religious beliefs. I don't have a clue what constitutional crevice The Supremes will find the text to justify whatever decision they make. This is just my own personal belief.

  14. #14
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2013-2014

    Quote Originally Posted by Kirkus View Post
    And there it is.

    To deny a woman employment because she uses contraception would never stand up to constitutional scrutiny.

    At the risk of losing my Liberal Membership Card, and speaking as the Atheist I am, I don't see how an employer should be made to pay for contraception coverage if it violates their religious beliefs. I don't have a clue what constitutional crevice The Supremes will find the text to justify whatever decision they make. This is just my own personal belief.
    Except that, last I checked, somewhere in the ballpark of about 30% of women who use birth control don't use it for reproductive purposes. They use it because it is the most effective treatment for other medical conditions like severe menstrual conditions.

    My paternal grandmother died in 1945, leaving five children. My father was 4. My Uncle David was 4 months old. My Aunt Betty had to assume responsibility for raising her four brothers and sisters while my grandfather farmed the farm. My grandfather had to get permission from the school for my Aunt Betty to bring my Uncle David with her to school.

    The reason my grandmother died in 1945 was due to complications from a hysterectomy. She had to have a hysterectomy because her periods were so severe that she was rendered bed-ridden or she had to be taken to the doctor's office during every period. The pill was not available then. Had it been, it might have substantially improved her quality of life. She might even still be with us.

    So when people oppose ready access to birth control for religious reasons based solely on reproductive issues, I would argue that they should be held accountable--perhaps even liable--for the other morbidity and suffering their religious beliefs cause others when the hide behind the cause of religion to a degree that hurts people in very real and very meaningful ways.

    Contraceptive medical technologies are about more than reproduction. For many, they are about basic quality of life and reduced suffering from medical conditions for which an ideal, first-try treatment regimen is the birth control pill.

    I would want absolutely nothing to do with any religious institution or train of thought that so willfully and so calculatedly goes out of its way to cause such injury and suffering to others.

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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2013-2014

    But the owner's of Hobby Lobby are not opposing ready access to birth control. They're opposing the mandate that they pay for it. That wouldn't be my choice, certainly. But if they're providing the benefit of health insurance to their employees...

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