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Law, Religion

When Accommodation Becomes Establishment

This morning the Supreme court will hear arguments in Zubik v. Burwell, which is the name for seven cases which have been consolidated and will be considered all together. The issue is quite simple. Under the Affordable Care Act, certain religious organizations and non-profits are allowed to claim an exemption from covering contraception under their health insurance plans. These groups must simply inform the federal government that they are claiming that exemption for religious reasons.When the government is notified, the government contacts the insurer and the insurer is then obligated under the law to pay for any contraceptive coverage directly. The religious organization is then completely out of the transaction. But the religious organizations in front of the Court today, which include some Catholic Bishops and a much-respected order of nuns, The Little Sisters of the Poor, claim that just filling out the exemption form (or sending a notice of their own design) violates their religious beliefs, because that notice triggers direct coverage by their insurer. Again. After notifying the government that they are out of it, they are…out of it. So they aren’t providing or paying for anyone’s contraceptives in violation of their sincere religious beliefs. Someone else is paying for and providing contraceptive coverage. Which means their real complaint is that their employees still have access to contraceptive coverage. And they don’t want people having access to contraceptives. They are, in effect, asking the Court to decide that their particular religious worldview dictates healthcare policy for everyone else. The First Amendment says no. Simple. With an evenly split court, it will be interesting to see what happens.


About legalfeet

I'm an essayist, commentator, lawyer and reporter with expertise in Constitutional Law, United States History, religion and public education. I cover current issues involving the First Amendment religion clauses, modern religious movements, scientific history and developments and the events in which these areas converge.


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© Robin Radner and Legalfeet, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robin Radner and Legalfeet with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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