Catholic Church Sues Obama Administration Over Contraceptive Provisions in the Health Care Law

The Obama Administration is facing another challenge to the national health care law. With over half of the states opposing the law in the federal courts, including the pending case before the Supreme Court, the University of Notre Dame, the Archdiocese of New York and 41 other Roman Catholic institutions have sued over the requirement that employers cover contraception in workers’ health plans.

Section 2713 of the Public Health Service Act, enacted by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148) provides:

“A group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall, at a minimum provide coverage for and shall not impose any cost sharing requirements for— . . . (4) with respect to women, such additional preventive care and screenings . . . as provided for in comprehensive guidelines supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration . . . .”

The referenced regulations then require “All Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.”

Those provisions, the plaintiffs argue, conflict with deeply held religious beliefs and practices.

The lawsuit raises an interesting question of where to draw the line between religious services and more secular activities by religious institutions. While a church is protected by the free exercise clause, it is also part of a large non-for-profit corporation. In the case of the Catholic Church it is a major employer and the operator of a host of different activities.

The lawsuit by Notre Dame states that “[t]he government…cannot justify its decision to force Notre Dame to provide, pay for, and/or facilitate access to these services in violation of its sincerely held religious beliefs. If the government can force religious institutions to violate their beliefs in such a manner, there is no apparent limit to the government’s power.” That is far from evident. Existing case law would in my view support the Administration in mandating a generally applicable rule on this kind. The courts have been admittedly reluctant to draw lines between protected religious activities and non-protected activities of religious institutions. However, the slippery slope argument may go the other way: if the government cannot require this type of insurance coverage what would such a holding mean for the future of regulations in the health care and other areas. The Senate previously split 51-48 on getting rid of the contraception requirement and the lawsuit is likely to result in further erosion of support for Obama among Catholics.

One of the most difficult hurdles for the plaintiffs is the decision in Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), where the Supreme Court ruled that a state could deny unemployment benefits to a person terminated for using of peyote. That decision was written by one of the justices that the Plaintiffs are likely most counting on in an eventual argument before the Supreme Court — Justice Scalia. Scalia upheld the law as a “neutral law of general applicability.” Notably, he relied on the very inverse slippery slope argument above: “To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.” The Court drew the distinction between laws prohibiting physical acts of worship and such neutral rules. The case does not rule out a possible ruling in favor of these plaintiffs, but it (and other cases) give the advantage to the government.

Clearly, the plaintiffs have the advantage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), which imposes a heavy burden on the government when they can show that a regulation substantially burdens their exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability. However, there remains the question of substantial burden and the possibility that the government can show a compelling interest in light of the slippery slope danger. There are thousands of different religious organizations in this country with countless religious practices and values that might become the basis for claimed exceptions. Such a ruling would have sweeping implications for state and federal regulations across the country.

Here is a copy of the complaint: complaint-final

Source: Wall Street Journal

68 thoughts on “Catholic Church Sues Obama Administration Over Contraceptive Provisions in the Health Care Law”

  1. Each human paying will leaves out a large number of humans that can’t pay. Asking for proof of the Upper cervical specific care to be able to help and prevent symtomes helping humans means there is not a good spirit in you casting doubt in your head. When I say all need it I mean it All ages now is best. upcspine.

  2. We all have heard lawyer jokes, right? Well it’s not fair to Professor Turley and Rafflaw and Mespo and Gene H and…some others, so I’m now going to tell an Engineer Joke.

    An Engineer died and ended up at the pearly gates. He was one of those engineer-managers who had gotten used to telling everyone else what was wrong with their system and how he could improve it. Anyway, he ended up in Purgatory going from one level to another and so forth. On the first day he was in the fourth circle and he told the mini-devil in charge that he needed to see Satan about something. The mini-devil liked that idea (let them get a taste of THAT!) so he escorted him to Satan. The engineer told Satan, “You know, you’ve got all these different circles, and the damned are getting all jammed up in between circles, and they’re not spending the right amount of time in any one circle they’re damned to, and it’s completely inconvenient.” Satan was taken aback, never heard THAT complaint before. He said, “What do you want to do about it?” The engineer said, “I can build you an escalator system.” Satan said, “Go ahead,” and the engineer did. A few days later, he asked to see Satan again, and he got an audience. He said, “You know, the Seventh Circle is warming up the ice floes so nothing works right.” Satan said, “What are you going to do about that?” The Engineer said, “I’ll install a ventilation system.” So he did. A few days later, he was back up there, “Satan, you know the screams of the damned aren’t even reaching the sinners on earth so your system is not getting much exposure.” What could he do about THAT? You guessed it, he installed amplifiers and so forth. Finally, God was getting word that there were all kinds of improvements downstairs, and he decided he’d just pull this Engineer up there to work on improvements in Heaven, where it could do some good. So he notified Satan he was transferring the Engineer upstairs. Satan stopped him: “God, you know our deal cannot be broken and no modifications can be put in after the fact.” God did know that, of course, being all-knowing. But he said, “Well, I am going to break the contract this time.” Satan laughed out loud: “You can’t! Where are you going to find a lawyer?”

    1. Nice joke. Problem is from my research hell is not a place. Heaven is Jesus in you .Meaning hell, and heaven are not a place. Hell is Gods light seen to the human that kills or hates not being like Jesus is like it was fire. KJV, 1 John 1;5This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light. Heb; 12:29;For our God is a consuming fire. James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, Hell is the face of God Moses could not look into or become ashes. That is why theredeemedf are changed in a twinkling of an eye when Jesus comes back.

  3. JH,
    I pray that we will quickly turn to a single payer system of health care. And Catholics will be included.
    Shano, good luck on that proof thingie!

    1. Each human paying will leaves out a large number of humans that can’t pay. Asking for proof of the Upper cervical specific care is able to help and prevent symtomes helping humans means there is not a good spirit in you casting doubt in your head. When I say all need it I mean it All ages now is best. upcspine.

  4. JH Prove that I am going to a Lake of Fire.

    Prove that GOD himself is making this Lake of Fire bigger, I want to see the construction receipts Hiring a bulldozer that is fire proof must be very expensive.

  5. WE are to pray without ceasing./prayer is a state of mind that helps us live peaceably with all me. Not Hey Lord give me whatever. The practitioners on http://www.upcspine.com, all ages now. Each human born loving like Jesus loves has a chance for eternal joy. The only being happy to rob them of that is the devil = death. God is equal give joy get joy give jail time get jail time no matter who gives it for whatever presumed reason. Give death, and call it good, and God will reward whoever like wise. I tell you the truth. The Legal system is creating many to be outside the city of God making the lake of fire larger.

  6. religious freedom should never ever trump the law. Period. If your religion says contraceptives are evil and the law says you must pay for it then you must pay for it.

    If your religion says all medicine is evil and only prayers are allowed to cure people, then you must still provide insurance if the law mandates it.

    If your religion says people who are disabled are being punished by god and accommodating them is a sin you will still have to accommodate them

    If your religion says human sacrifices are the proper method to atone for losing an account than again, you must risk pissing off your god.

    If your religion mandates that women should be topless at all times, well sometimes the law must learn to bend.

    1. WE are to pray without ceasing./prayer is a state of mind that helps us live peaceably with all me. Not Hey Lord give me whatever. The practitioners on http://www.upcspine.com, all ages now. Each human born loving like Jesus loves has a chance fore eternal joy.The only being happy to rob them of that is the devil = death. God is equal give joy get joy give jail time get jail time no matter who gives it for whatever presumed reason. Give death,and call it good,and God will reward whoever like wise. I tell you the truth. The Legal system is creating many to be outside the city of God making the lake of fire larger.

  7. “The church leaders headed to court hope to undermine the president, but they may help him. Voters who think sex is only for procreation were not going to vote for Obama anyway. And the lawsuit reminds the rest that what the bishops portray as an attack on religion by the president is really an attack on women by the bishops.” Maureen Dowd, NYT

  8. The lawsuit is in a way analogous to the reasoning in Citizens United. A corporate entity, a church or church school, has First Amendment rights like a person. Yet in America a corporation is only accountable to its shareholders to turn a profit and is not accountable for its spoken word. Take the tenet of the church that God created the Earth in seven days or whatever that mantra is. Or that Muslims are not Christians and do not get to have health care. Or that on the eighth day God created Dog. What if I am an employee of that church and I want to get my teeth taken care of and the church says that my dog’s teeth come first? That church dogma would take precedence over a human.
    Why cant the plaintiffs include a person here in this lawsuit instead of these corporate United Citizens with a cross types?

  9. I read the Complaint filed by the assorted organizations consisting of some 70 plus pages and 412 plus numbered paragraphs. There is not one single person, Catolic or otherwise, who has joined in the Complaint and hence not one person asserts that any of the managerie of rights were violated. This Complaint is not a clear and precise statement of the claims which are vaguely alleged. Not one person is named as a plaintiff who claims that he/she works for some Catolic employer and he/she does not want to wear a rubber or swallow a birth control pill. The First Amendment respects the rights of persons, not the rights of organizations who purport to speak for persons. Nowhere is it alleged that any of the plaintiffs are suppressed in their right to speak or preach. No person is named as a plaintiff who says that he/she was denied right to religion, access to religtion–indeed no persons are named in the suit. Yet the religious organizations want to speak for people. They failed to name God as a party or even God spelled backwards.

  10. “Those provisions, the plaintiffs argue, conflict with deeply held religious beliefs and practices.”

    I think the above should read: “Those provisions, the plaintiffs argue, conflict with deeply held religious beliefs and practices–and SEXISM.

  11. Let’s sue the church, so that it is forced to reveal all of the child-molesters it is protecting, so that they may be prosecuted and jailed.

  12. What Michael Murry said. The RCC is steering right in a futile attempt to hold on to the few Catholics still listening and donating.

  13. What about the religious freedom of hospital employees? Because the hospital is nominally Catholic, in spite of having thousands of employees of any or no religion, every employee is supposed to follow the strictest of Catholic teaching?

    As for being free to find employment elsewhere, there are communities in which most or all local hospitals are church owned. We’re not supposed to work at all?

    1. The strictest of Catholic teaching.That sounds like the religions Jesus faced with the scribes, Pharisees, high priest, and Sadducees. Legal system also has what is known as the strictest laws too. In spirit they are the same. Church, and state are not as separate as you think.

    2. Don’t do the same thing the Catholic Church does. They persecute zoosexuals for example. To want to persecute the Catholic for their sexuality is not the right thing to do.That would be as bad as they are persecuting whoever else.

  14. The Catholic Church speaks through its Priests. The Priests relate what they think is in divine scripture. The flock listens or fails to listen at their peril and hence go to Hell. The flock is out of the pasture. The flock uses birth control and porks out of wedlock. The Priests pork little children. The little children need to become adults, return to the pasture, get revenge on the pediphile priests, and practice birth control so that there are not too many of these deranged Catholics in the future. Meanwhile let them take in cats, not dogs.

  15. If the overwhelming majority of Catholic women practice some form of birth control, then that indicates either a deeply held belief in birth control or a shallowly held belief in what the Catholic Church tells women to believe. Not a good sign for the future health and relevance of the Catholic Church.

    If only the hierarchy of the Catholic Church lived by a deeply held belief that priests shouldn’t bugger altar boys — or at least not so often.

  16. CLH,

    As someone who publicly boasts of killing — and assisting in the killing — of foreign persons whom you “don’t like,” you make a rather poor spokesperson against “hatefulness.” I knew a lot of guys like you in Vietnam. Real self-styled killers of peasants their government had ordered them not to like. They didn’t like anyone with yellow skin who spoke Vietnamese, which they didn’t understand. Hell, many of them didn’t even understand English all that well. I still remember the day in early 1971 when our local SEAL team went charging up a canal in a canoe — straight into an ambush by yellow men who spoke Vietnamese and didn’t like white American military goons invading, occupying and destroying their country. A lot of dead SEALs that day. Nothing much seems to have changed, since I read in the news the other day where a team of our JSOC “advisors” — whose boots have not yet officially touched the ground — had just run into an ambush in Yemen and gotten shot up as a result. Just the way we started and ended in Vietnam. If the American people only knew how often this sort of thing happens. No wonder the American government can only operate in the dark of night. Its imperial activities and blunders simply can’t stand the light of day.

    Anyway, when the Afghan Taliban start conducting night raids against American homes in Kansas for having in them men “of military age” then perhaps you’ll have a reason not to like them enough to kill them. Until then, please spare us the Rambo chest thumping bravado. You sound like nothing more than a common murderer for hire — and probably cheaply, too. The Afghans will live the way the Afghans want to live. You have nothing to say in the matter.

  17. “[Churches] are people, my friend!” – – Willard Mitt Romney

    1. The human is the temple, but the building has been emphasized. Lies a plenty have been spoken there. .I know all of them able to back them up with Scripture.KJV.

  18. Jonathon,
    The RCC is only against drugs and treatments that benefit women’s health so, no, they are not trying to get members to abstain from drugs of any kind.

    1. Drugs, and treatment to benefit woman sounds externally to be very good, but I know better. It seems the Catholic Church knows better too.They however do not Know what I know about the practitioners on upcspine, but should know of them. The kind of preventative care I speak of can make the other so called care obsolete.
      Drugs to me are bad period. The Kind of care I talk about stands. Being checked is wise by all no matter how they think they feel.

  19. CLH,
    Interesting response. In one sentence you say I disgust you and in another sentence you claim I am too intelligent to speak my mind. The Taliban control every civil agency along with being the only religion allowed. The Catholic Church is making every attempt to make the country follow their beliefs on contraception. As to the killing of people, the RCC in America is responsible for abusing children and hiding the facts and perps from the police. The RCC restricts women almost as much as the Taliban does. You go on to say in another posting that you don’t consider the tax free status of the RCC as getting government money? Are you kidding? so if a tax break saves the Church millions in taxes, that isn’t a benefit? I do not have the experience killing anyone, but I see that as a benefit. I honor everyone whos has served our country, but I don’t have to honor a Church who is doing everything in its power to hold women down and to prevent them from the health care they need. All under the label of religion.
    This ivory tower elitist snob will continue to provide my opinion on any subject, no matter if it upsets you. I don’t have to worry about being forced to wear a hajib, but neither do you. The Truth does hurt sometimes.

    Swarthmore mom,
    Great link to the nuns who are being abused by the RCC.

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