Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sotomayor Needs to Back Off - Remove Emergency Stay on ACA Birth Control Provision

After weeks of fighting the Repukes - after the new website didn't live up to expectations, Obama and his administration now are confronting someone they saw as an ally: Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor (appointed by Obama).  Sotomayor, acting on a request from Catholic nuns based at the Denver Little Sisters for the Poor Home for the Aged,  granted an emergency stay for the implementation of the ACA birth control feature- which had been denied earlier in the day by a federal appeals court.

Apart from the fact that Sotomayor - appointed to the highest court- has as her first mandate to be objective and not allow ideological bias to sway her, it is also bad form to be seen appearing to appease the Catholic Latino demographic bloc.  Thus, the Obama administration has rightfully called on Sotomayor to dissolve her stay, arguing (correctly):

"With the stroke of their own pen, applicants can secure for themselves the relief they seek from this court -- an exemption from the requirements of the contraceptive-coverage provision -- and the employer-applicants’ employees (and their family members) will not receive contraceptive coverage through the plan’s third-party administrator either,"

Why is Sotomayor doing this? Perhaps either because she's overlooked the fine print that allows a practical out, or has been driven to make this decision by pressure from the Latino Catholic demographic. (Which we know is the fastest growing in the nation, and which she - as a the first Laino on the SC- would dearly love to appear to attend to.)   As for the "Little Sisters of the Poor", one can't help but suspect they've been put up to this by the same front group rabble that put the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) up to their own challenge to the contraception provision of the ACA In other words, all the Catholic groups are willing and compliant puppets to the machinations of the conservative shadow players and organizations who want to derail Obamacare.

In the case of FOCUS, it was the Alliance Defending Freedom calling the shots, who claimed:

Faith-based organizations should be free to live and operate according to the faith they teach and espouse.”

“If the government can fine Christian ministries out of existence for keeping their faith there is no limit to what freedom they can take away.”

As I noted in response to that babble, there is no attempt whatsoever to “fine Christian ministries out of existence” – only to have them adhere to the standards of all other employers in the public sphere. If then the Catholic Church operates as an employer in the public sphere – never mind it’s a religious institution – then it’s bound to adhere to public standards pertaining to the Affordable Care Act, which all other public employers at other institutions, corporations are also bound to accept.  Hence, the only thing being “taken away” here is the Church employer’s ability to take away secular employees’ rights to the same standard of health care as all other secular employees’ in the public or private sphere.  The Church, meanwhile, is quite free to morally legislate its own members’ do’s and don’ts to its heart’s content. NO one is taking away that right. 

If the Church sees fit to deny its own members’ as employees access to birth control or the morning after pill, or abortion, then fine. It is well within its purview. But it can’t extrapolate that to secular employees and retain tax-free status as a peculiarly religious institution.

The specious 'Alliance Defending Freedom' argument also went on:

"The (ACA) mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as well as the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution.”

Which, again, is total bollocks. There is no such violation because Catholic employers – whether in schools or hospitals or whatever – are quite free to set whatever moral standards they wish for their OWN Church members who are employed in such venues. What they are not free to do is to set those standards for secular employees!   If they still wish to, however, they can follow the path laid out by the Justice Dept.,  especially as a "church plan is not required to provide contraceptive  coverage".

Never mind common sense, we can be sure that more attacks will be readied with the ACA in Right wingers sights, despite the fact that millions of citizens desperately need the ACA to secure some kind of health care. But does the Right care? Not any more than they do about the unemployed losing benefits, or the economy diving into the crapper because of it.

But at the very least, we ought to expect Supreme Court justices not to be played and exploited in these political battles, and hence Sotomayor needs to remove the temporary stay post haste.

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