Bush-Appointed Judge Issues Righteous Defense of Birth Control Mandate


George Bush, you had ONE JOB. And that job was to pump the court system full of conservative judges who did nutty things like declare themselves “pro life” while strongly advocating in favor of less gun control and letting the President declare war whenever Saddam Hussein makes any future Presidents named Bush mad. But now, it seems that Bush, Sr. couldn’t even pull that off — one of his appointees just threw out a lawsuit that complained that compelling employer-provided health insurance to cover birth control for employees was a violation of religious liberty. And she threw it out pretty damn righteously.

No, Judge Carol E. Jackson didn’t crumple up a copy of the suit and pantomime like she was dribbling it over to her garbage can and then pretend to slam dunk it. But her written opinion was pretty great. Here’s part of it, from Think Progress,

The burden of which plaintiffs complain is that funds, which plaintiffs will contribute to a group health plan, might, after a series of independent decisions by health care providers and patients covered by [an employer’s health] plan, subsidize someone else’s participation in an activity that is condemned by plaintiffs’ religion. . . . [Federal religious freedom law] is a shield, not a sword. It protects individuals from substantial burdens on religious exercise that occur when the government coerces action one’s religion forbids, or forbids action one’s religion requires; it is not a means to force one’s religious practices upon others. [It] does not protect against the slight burden on religious exercise that arises when one’s money circuitously flows to support the conduct of other free-exercise-wielding individuals who hold religious beliefs that differ from one’s own. . . .
[T]he health care plan will offend plaintiffs’ religious beliefs only if an [] employee (or covered family member) makes an independent decision to use the plan to cover counseling related to or the purchase of contraceptives. Already, [plaintiffs] pay salaries to their employees-money the employees may use to purchase contraceptives or to contribute to a religious organization. By comparison, the contribution to a health care plan has no more than a de minimus impact on the plaintiff’s religious beliefs than paying salaries and other benefits to employees.

Got that? Giving employees the right to use their compensatory benefits to purchase something an employer finds icky isn’t a violation of jack squat, and employers don’t have a right to push their choices onto their female employees.

And, as TP points out, this opinion establishes that employers are presumably already paying their female employees money which can be used to purchase all manner of anti-the-boss’s-religion type things. Books about Satanism. Lady Gaga CD’s. Cable subscriptions to HBO, which shows a lot of boobies. If it was okay for employers to mandate how their employees use one type of work benefit, then, one could argue that they also have the right to mandate how they spend their salaries. From now on, it’s Chick fil A sandwiches only. Boss’s orders.

[Think Progress]

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