Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hobby Lobby, Religious Precepts And Connecticut’s Swooning US Congressional Delegation


According to a recent news story, “Democrats in Congress announced Wednesday they are filing legislation in an attempt to undo the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling that certain companies can deny workers’ contraception coverage on religious grounds.”

The Supreme Court Ruling that Democratic Congressmen, among them Connecticut’s entire U.S. Congressional Delegation, wish to overthrow is Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. It is important to understand that the ruling was a very narrow one, which is to say it was a decision that sought an accommodation between plaintiffs and defendants in the case, though one would hardly deduce this from the hysterical response to it by abortion on demand Democrats.

U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal’s response may be found on his senatorial site. His remarks are reproduced below. The Blumenthal response is a joint declaration. U.S. Senator Chris Murphy also signed off on the media release, and both senators co-sponsored a new bill, the Newspeak named Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act , “introduced today to restore contraceptive coverage guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act and to protect coverage of other health services from employers who want to impose their beliefs on employees by denying benefits.”

The Hobby Lobby decision affects only certain kinds of birth control. The owners of Hobby Lobby themselves provide birth control pills to their employees. But the Hobby Lobby owners drew a red line at providing their employees with abortifacients. It may be important to point out here that those bringing the suit were not Catholics operating under the thumb of the Pope (see Thomas Nast's nasty anti-Catholic cartoon top left).  Because the suit touches only the matter of abortifacients, the decision of the court does not touch the larger question: May employers with religious scruples refuse to provide ordinary birth control pills to their employees?

This important distinction is not mentioned in the media release issued by Mr. Blumenthal and Mr. Murphy the operative assumption of which is that the Hobby Lobby decision upsets the entire birth control apple cart.

Here is the Blumenthal-Murphy response to the high court decision as issued in their joint “made in Washington DC” press release:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

(Washington, D.C.) —  In the wake of the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) co-sponsored legislation introduced today to restore contraceptive coverage guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act and to protect coverage of other health services from employers who want to impose their beliefs on employees by denying benefits…

“Shamefully, the Supreme Court has held that the religious rights of corporations trump the personal freedoms of American women. I am proud to join with my Senate colleagues in co-sponsoring legislation to right this wrong and to restore critical access to contraceptive coverage for countless American women. Religious liberty is about the right to practice your religion, not the right to impose your religion on your employees,” Blumenthal said.

 “Last week’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. represents an unprecedented power grab by five unelected men on the Supreme Court. The immediate effect of this decision is that a woman’s boss can be the one calling the shots about her health care decisions – an outrageous intrusion into a woman’s personal life that needs to be reversed. Thousands of women of all ages and backgrounds in Connecticut rely on this essential health benefit every single day and bosses shouldn’t be allowed to take it away because they find it objectionable. Our bill will restore this critical Affordable Care Act requirement and allow women to take back control of their health care decisions,” Murphy said.

“After five justices decided last week that an employer’s personal views can interfere with women's access to essential health services, we in Congress need to act quickly to right this wrong,” said Senator Murray. “This bicameral legislation will ensure that no CEO or corporation can come between people and their guaranteed access to health care, period. I hope Republicans will join us to revoke this court-issued license to discriminate and return the right of Americans to make their own decisions, about their own health care and their own bodies." 


Note especially Mr. Blumenthal high dungeon rhetorical swoon:

“Shamefully, the Supreme Court has held that the religious rights of corporations trump the personal freedoms of American women. I am proud to join with my Senate colleagues in co-sponsoring legislation to right this wrong and to restore critical access to contraceptive coverage for countless American women. Religious liberty is about the right to practice your religion, not the right to impose your religion on your employees.”

Nowhere in the decision does one find the court holding that “the religious rights of corporations trump the personal freedoms of American women,” pot boiler rhetoric that comes straight from pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood.

It may be noted for the record that Mr. Blumenthal’s Chief of Staff, Laurie Rubner, served as Vice President for Public Policy for Planned Parenthood, an abortion provider that stands to lose large sums of money if – to be sure, not a likely possibility -- some few members of the state’s Congressional delegation should rediscover their Catholic roots. On the matter of abortion, three of the seven members of the Connecticut Congressional Delegation are heterodox Catholics. If all Catholics voted in support of their religious precepts – the false reigning presumption of pro-abortion legislators – religious rights might be more widely supported. But that is not the case. The presumption itself is a hobgoblin dangled before the public by pro-abortion politicians, some of them Catholic, all of them libertines, on their ceaseless hunt for votes.

Mr. Blumenthal and his wife, according to Rabbi Andrew Sklar, are members of the Greenwich Reform Synagogue, where Mr. Blumenthal is an “extremely visible” member of the community. The synagogue, in one of the state’s most affluent towns, is described by its rabbi as “diverse, open” and as a “very progressive congregation.”

Mr. Murphy is a nondenominational Christian.

Reform Judaism in the United States, also known as Liberal Judaism and Progressive Judaism, is affiliated with the Reform Jewish movement in North America, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.  Under Reform Judaism, beliefs, practices and organizations must be made compatible with the surrounding culture. Reformed Jews regard traditional Jewish law as a set of general guidelines rather than restrictive, culturally transcendent proscriptions.

There is no “wrong” in the Hobby Lobby decision that will be corrected by the Orwellian titled Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act.

The new legislation supported by Mr. Blumenthal and Murphy in the Senate and the five Democratic members of Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional delegation is designed to subvert the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a law, a Courant story reminds us, that was “passed by Congress in 1993.”

The stated purpose of RFRA, which was passed by a unanimous U.S. House and a near unanimous U.S. Senate with only three dissenting votes and later signed into law by Mr. Clinton, was to prevent the promulgation of laws that substantially burden a person's free exercise of religion -- like the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act, which would give the force of law to what is essentially an administrative interpretation of Obamacare. Nowhere in the law does Obamacare explicitly prohibit religious minded people from adhering to scruples more confining than those that bind neither Connecticut’s two senators or the state’s five Democratic U.S. House members. The proper course for a congressman who objects to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling anchored in a law that passed through congress by an overwhelming majority is to repeal the foundational law, not to subvert it by passing a Constitutionally dubious law.  

The remediating Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act very likely will not pass Constitutional muster, so long as the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution still prevents the Congress – and by extension all other legislative bodies – from creating laws that “prohibit the free expression” of religion, a clause that is not limited to religious speech alone but which embraces religious acts as well, whether or not they are performed in or out of church buildings. The First Amendment still permits one to BE religious in a Public Square in which faith may be practiced by both clergy and the laity.

The proposed new law supported by Connecticut’s entire Democratic Congressional Delegation, properly viewed, is a campaign device designed to inflame and encourage pro-abortion on demand groups to give their votes and money to progressive politicians.

The whip no doubt will serve its purpose, but those of us who have a lingering affection for the First Amendment should bravely resist the lashes. 
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