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Thursday, February 09, 2012


larry kurtz

I was going to bring this up when you wrote the Hosana posts, Ken: had the plaintiff been a man he likely would have been retained instead of fired. Religions and churches have gotten away with murder ever since Mitochondrial Eve said 'no' to a rapist.

Men are jerks by definition.

Bill Fleming

David Boies would appear to agree with you here, KB. Good call.


David Boies seems to only half agree Bill. Unlike KB, he doubts it will have the standing to get to the High Court.

Bill Fleming

A.I. good point.

Ken Blanchard

Apparently, Mr. Boies hasn't heard of Hosanna-Tabor. You DO sometimes "exempt religious employers just because of their religion." The Court did so unanimously in H-T. The question is whether the Court will do so in this case.

It looks to me like all the ingredients for standing are there. You have an alleged injury, an alleged injurer, and an obvious remedy. Just because Boies doesn't like the argument doesn't mean that it will have a hard time getting into court.

Troy Jones


I'm Catholic so I'm only have knowledge to talk about it as it applies to the Catholic Church.

Catholic Social Teaching is an integral component of living a Catholic life. Catholic social service organizations (universities, hospitals, adoption agencies, soup kitchens and the like) are an extention of the Church's Gospel ministry. We don't separate the good we do to all of society without regard to religious creed and our theological teachings. They are as said in Catholic vernacular part of the seamless garment.

There is an operative statement that grounds individual and collective action: "Material cooperation with evil." It is always sinful and illicit. Any force to do so must be opposed and there is no room for complicity.

Cardinal George predicted this would be a by-product of Obamacare, not withstanding the promises made during the debate it would not be used to force such matters on the Church when he said "I expect to die in my bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr."

Unfortunately, he underestimated the time for it to occur. Another Archbishop just said to his Congressman recently: "I will not recognize this and am willing to go to prison if this stands."

Final comment: There is another operative phrase in Catholic teaching that guides us individually and collectively: Respect for "prudential judgment" in pursuing means for social justice and moral living. This exercise of prudential judgment is evidenced in great diversity among Bishops, Priests and the lay faithful on many issues. In my lifetime, I've never seen a political issue result in absolute unanamity among the US College of Bishops nor among Priests.

Even the very liberal nun who is the head of the Catholic Hospital Association and took heat from Catholics for her and her groups support of Obamacare said she feels betrayed and blind-sided and said this can not stand.


By "High Court" I assume you mean the Supreme Court KB. I'm going to make another assumption that Boies does not mean to imply a case would never get into a lower court--only that it would not proceed and that the lower court would rule against the plaintiffs.

I'm absolutely certain Boise is familiar with Hosanna-Tabor which dealt with "ministerial exception". And it's likely he would argue successfully that the exception does not apply here because that would mean, for example, a non-Catholic, female nurse is somehow a "minister" of the Catholic faith because she happens to work in a Catholic affiliated hospital.

What many say is in question here is the concept of a "conscience clause" regarding birth control measures which is a whole other can of worms.

larry kurtz

A.I. Exactly.

larry kurtz

Seven sacraments for men; six for women.


Bill Fleming

Well, there appear to be already a number of Catholic-based organizations offering contraceptives as part of their health care coverage. http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/02/09/422281/large-catholic-institutions-offered-contraception-even-before-mandated-to-do-so/?mobile=nc

"Once the law passed, Catholics had to provide contraception benefits. But rather than accusing the state of starting a war against religion, the organization left the decision to the consciences of its members:

“Our employees know what church teaching is. And we trust them to use their conscience and do the right thing,” said Brent King, spokesman for the Madison Diocese, which began covering prescription contraception ...

Diocese of Madison employees, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, sign a document when they’re hired vowing to abide by the laws of both Wisconsin and the church. He said employees would receive “strong pastoral recommendations against” using the contraception benefit, but that the diocese has no intention of policing it.

Significantly, the Obama regulation exempts churches from including the birth control benefits in their plans and would provide an a new layer of conscience protections for the state. But since most Catholic women rely on contraception, it’s likely that many may still offer the benefit."

J McCleery

If I were the head of a Catholic organization, I would put out a simple statement that says that the organization will comply with the ObamaCare mandate, as required by the law.

However, I would put out a second statement that the Supreme Court's decision Hosannah Tabor v EEOC affirms our right to fire any employee who is suspected of immoral behavior, including taking birth control.

Troy Jones

Two comments:

1) I am wondering if the Obama administration/Bill Fleming would allow the Madison Diocese to continue their policy but choose to police those who avail themselves of the option and fire them for violating the document they sign at hiring?

2) This would of course require a Hippa exception regarding this item. Would that be acceptable?

If not, the Obama assault on freedom of conscience and free exercise of religion still stands.

Donald Pay

The assault on freedom of conscience and free exercise of religion is being waged here by the Catholic Church. The freedoms in the Bill of Rights are freedoms to individuals, not to organized groups of people.

larry kurtz

@TrahantReports Mark Trahant:

"Twist on Catholics & contraception: Power of state over religion was already decided against Native Am Church in Smith case. Revisit that?"

Bill Fleming

Troy, that would be up to the courts and existing labor law, not Obama. My opinion is, Madison should try it and see what happens. I don't know what Obama's opinion would be.

Bill Fleming

...thinking your question through a little further, Troy, wouldn't the proper Madison Diocese first response be to excommunicate those Catholics who failed to keep the agreement? Perhaps they could even include that language as a condition of hire. How well do you suppose the faithful would warm up to that kind of policy?

Ken Blanchard

Great thread! But perhaps it is moot; the Administration appears to have caved on the issue.

larry kurtz

The President did not "cave;" he negotiated a compromise.


If only every Obama "cave" had retained so much of his original objective--in this case, 100%.

larry kurtz

Parenthetically, KB: i confess that your photo choice for this post is a freakin' hoot! Spanky and Alfalfa 70 years hence; or maybe Jabba the Hutt and Idi Amin go steady....

larry kurtz

er, Buckwheat and Spanky....

larry kurtz

Justice Thomas' left hand is clearly flashing the Vulcan Salute and Justice Scalia's left hand is in a nearly white-knuckled fist. Their jowls suggest opulence and lack of physical activity: Statins are obviously part of their daily med regimen and sex likely out of the question.

Sad, really.

Ken Blanchard

I retract my comment that the President caved. He pretended to cave, saying things about his "compromise" that were manifestly untrue. If insurance companies are compelled to offer "free" contraceptives, they will merely include that charge in their premiums and thus the Church-affiliated hospitals will still be paying for it. I expect that the opposition to the new rule will not be bought off with this fiction. Maybe a compromise that insists on 100% of the original position isn't really a compromise at all.

A.I.: I certainly agree that nurses as such are not ministers. That was the point of my argument. I don't know how you can be "absolutely certain" what Boies knows. What he said was false.

Bill: it certainly seems to be true that many Catholic organizations have voluntarily agreed to cover contraceptives in their insurance plans. The point is that it was voluntary.

Bill Fleming

"The point is that it was voluntary." I think the point is that the Bishops are just trying to pick a fight and are using this as a scapegoat. If this really mattered to them the crackdown would have happened long ago, and it wouldn't have had anything to do with politics other than internal Church politics. As usual, the issue the Church really has is with its own congregation, especially the female members.


All I said I was "absolutely certain" of KB was that Boise is "familiar" with Hosanna-Tabor. I think it is a fairly safe bet that one of the relative handful of attorneys that argue cases before the Supreme Court would know about this case.

You say insurance companies "will merely include that charge (contraceptive coverage) in their premiums and thus the Church-affiliated hospitals will still be paying for it." However, the administration contends contraceptive coverage results in a net savings for insurers when balanced against costs associated with pregnancy. It would then follow that plans that do not cover contraceptives should cost more. That not only renders your argument moot, it also implies insurers should increase premiums for institutions that exercise exceptions granted under this rule.

john davidson

Hi Ken,

Will be decided by saner heads and is not going to stand - just saying.

john davidson

larry kurtz

Viagra coverage means breeding more paying Catholics to settle Church sex abuse lawsuits: NPR. Sheesh....


john davidson

Hey Larry, et al - Google James Joyce and Catholicism...

"Here comes everybody"

Sounds like diversity and multi-culturalism to me!

Maybe some day we will all have a beer together..

john d

john davidson

Hey Ken,

The naysayers to the Catholic Bishops are all wasting their time, no offense.

The administration is trying to position itself as being more meaningful than the Catholic Church.

Fat chance.


john davidson

Ken - Of course SCOTUS will not review the HHS "ruling" as a contraception matter, that said here is an interesting take on the RCC view of contraception.

This should really PO most of your contributors. I hope they click and learn.

That includes you, Larry! :)


Best regards,

john davidson

john davidson

"The culture is broken, and therefore the reigning cultural orthodoxy needs a little dissent. The historic role of the Christian tradition has been to provide it."

Fr. Raymond J. De Souza

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