Thursday, January 30, 2014
Frederick Mark Gedicks (BYU Law School) has posted the Brief of Amici Curiae Church-State Scholars in Support of the Government in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. & Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius on SSRN. Here is the summary:
This brief argues that permissive religious accommodations violate the Establishment Clause and conflict with Free Exercise Clause and Title VII accommodation decisions when they impose significant costs of practicing the accommodated religion on those who do not believe or participate in it. For-profit employer exemptions from the Affordable Care Act contraception mandate under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act would constitute congressional and federal judicial action that violates the Establishment Clause, by shifting significant costs of observing religious beliefs against contraception from the employers who hold them to employees who don't. The brief concludes that keeping federal government action within the structural limits set by the Establishment Clause is a compelling interest that justifies denial of for-profit employer exemptions from the mandate under RFRA.
Amici on the brief are Frederick Mark Gedicks (Brigham Young University Law School), Vincent Blasi (Columbia Law School); Caitlin Borgmann (CUNY School of Law), Caroline Mala Corbin (University of Miami School of Law), Sarah Barringer Gordon (University of Pennsylvania Law School & Dept. of History), Steven K. Green (Willamette University College of Law), Leslie C. Griffin (William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas), B. Jessie Hill (Case Western Reserve University School of Law), Andrew M. Koppelman (Northwestern University Law School & Dept. of Political Science), Martha C. Nussbaum (The University of Chicago Law School & Dept. of Philosophy); Eduardo Peñalver (The University of Chicago Law School); Michael J. Perry (Emory University School of Law); Frank S. Ravitch (Michigan State University College of Law), Zoë Robinson (DePaul University College of Law), Lawrence Sager (University of Texas at Austin School of Law), Richard Schragger (University of Virginia School of Law), Micah Schwartzman (University of Virginia School of Law), Elizabeth Sepper (Washington University School of Law), Steven H. Shiffrin (Cornell University Law School), Nelson Tebbe (Brooklyn Law School) & Laura Underkuffler (Cornell University Law School).
Catherine Weiss, Natalie Kraner, Michael J. Hampson, Joseph A. Fischetti & Meg Slachetka of Lowenstein Sandler LLP served as counsel to the Amici.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Kansas Supreme Court Justices Pose Sharp Questions to Defense Lawyer Representing Dr. Tiller's Murderer
Justices interrogated attorney over argument that Scott Roeder believed he saved lives by shooting Dr George Tiller
Justices on Kansas' highest court expressed skepticism Wednesday that a man convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting of a Wichita abortion provider should get a new trial because he believed he was saving the lives of unborn children.
All seven supreme court justices had pointed questions for the attorney representing Scott Roeder, who is serving at least 50 years in prison for killing Dr George Tiller in May 2009. Roeder gunned down Tiller in the foyer of the doctor's church, where he was serving as an usher just as a Sunday service was starting. . . .
syracuse.com: Why Rep. Richard Hanna stood alone on House Republican abortion bill, by Mark Weiner:
U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna explained today why he voted against his House Republican colleagues on a bill that bans federal payments for abortions.
Hanna, R-Barneveld, was the only Republican to vote against the legislation, which passed the House Tuesday night by a vote of 227-188. . . .
The Huffington Post: House Republicans Pass Sweeping Anti-Abortion Bill, by Laura Bassett:
The House of Representatives passed a bundle of abortion restrictions Tuesday that would dramatically reduce the number of health insurance plans that cover the procedure. The vote was 227 to 188, with one lawmaker voting present
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7), sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), would prohibit insurance plans sold in the new health care exchanges from covering abortion, and it would eliminate tax benefits for small businesses that purchase insurance plans covering abortion. The bill would also prevent the District of Columbia from using its own locally raised funds to subsidize abortion care for low-income women. . . .
Monday, January 27, 2014
The New York Times editorial: A Formula for Repelling Women Voters:
Republican leaders have chosen an odd way to try to win back female voters alienated by relentless G.O.P. attacks on women’s health care and freedoms. Instead of backing off, they’re digging in, clinging to an approach that gave President Obama a 12-point advantage among women in the 2012 election and provided the slim margin of victory for Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate for governor in Virginia, in 2013. On the national level and even in some red states, the party’s stance on women’s rights is plainly not helping it.
Yet the ideological tide rolls on. States dominated by Republicans continue to enact new abortion restriction. The Republican National Committee last week heard Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, suggest that Democrats favor universal access to free contraception because they think women “cannot control their libido” without the help of “Uncle Sugar.” And this week, the Republican-led House is expected to pass the deceptively named No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. . . .
SCOTUS Blog: Partial Win for Little Sisters, by Lyle Denniston:
The Supreme Court on Friday afternoon gave an order of Roman Catholic nuns some added protection against the enforcement of a part of the Affordable Care Act, and spared them — for now — from having to file a government form in order to be exempt. The order, released after weeks of uncertainty, came without noted dissent in the case of Little Sisters of the Poor v. Sebelius (application 13A691). . . .
Dorf on Law: RFRA v. Bureaucracy: The SCOTUS Order in Little Sisters, by Mike Dorf:
On Friday, the SCOTUS issued an order in The Little Sisters case. The order reads, in full, as follows:
The application for an injunction having been submitted to Justice Sotomayor and by her referred to the Court, the Court orders: If the employer applicants inform the Secretary of Health and Human Services in writing that they are non-profit organizations that hold themselves out as religious and have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services, the respondents are enjoined from enforcing against the applicants the challenged provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related regulations pending final disposition of the appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. To meet the condition for injunction pending appeal, applicants need not use the form prescribed by the Government and need not send copies to third-party administrators. The Court issues this order based on all of the circumstances of the case, and this order should not be construed as an expression of the Court’s views on the merits.
Notwithstanding the disclaimer at the end, it is hard not to read the order as reflecting at least some view on the merits. After all, if the Court had accepted the government's representation that, because the Little Sisters use a "church plan," their employees would not receive contraceptive insurance in any event, it is hard to see how the equities could have warranted a stay. . . .
Balkinization: Not With a Bang...(The Supreme Court Wisely Preserves the Status Quo in Little Sisters), by Marty Lederman:
The Supreme Court issued this one-paragraph order today in the Little Sisters case: . . .
This deftly crafted paragraph is a fine example of Solomonic judgment. It leaves things just as they were and, for all practical purposes, just as they would have been in any event, as I explained here . . . .
Sunday, January 26, 2014
ThinkProgress: Judge Permanently Strikes Down Oklahoma’s Age Restrictions On Plan B, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
On Thursday night, an Oklahoma district court judge permanently struck down a state law that prevented some teenagers from buying Plan B over the counter, ruling that the restriction was essentially an abuse of power by the legislature. . . .
The New York Times: Texas Woman Is Taken Off Life Support After Order, by Manny Fernandez:
A Fort Worth hospital that kept a pregnant, brain-dead woman on life support for two months, followed a judge’s order on Sunday and removed her from the machines, ending her family’s legal fight to have her pronounced dead and to challenge a Texas law that prohibits medical officials from cutting off life support to a pregnant woman.
On Friday, a state district judge ordered John Peter Smith Hospital to remove the woman, Marlise Muñoz, from life-support machines by 5 p.m. on Monday. . . .
wsoctv.com: Gov. McCrory against appealing NC abortion speech case, by Emery P. Dalesio:
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory opposes a court fight to reverse a federal judge's ruling invalidating part of a state law that would have required abortion providers to describe a pre-procedure ultrasound's image to every patient, the Republican governor's office said Saturday. . . .
Saturday, January 25, 2014
TIME: Effectiveness of Emergency Contraception for Overweight Women Reviewed in Europe, by Alexandra Sifferlin:
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) — the European version of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — launched a broad review of whether body weight influences the ability of emergency contraceptives to prevent unintended pregnancies.
The agency recently required makers of the European version of Plan B, called Norlevo, to add an alert that the product may be less effective for overweight women. . . .
Friday, January 24, 2014
E! Online: Sarah Silverman and Jesus Chat About Abortion, Women's Reproductive Rights—Watch Now, by Rebecca Macatee:
Sarah Silverman might've known that a PSA with her "Jesus f--king Christ" talking about abortions would get people's attention.
And just why is God's son (an actor portraying Him, actually) paying her a visit in this controversial YouTube clip? To discuss women's reproductive rights and specifically to talk about access to safe abortions in the state of Texas. . . .
The New York Times: Justices Extend Order Blocking Contraception Mandate for Nuns, by Adam Liptak:
The Supreme Court on Friday extended a temporary order from Justice Sonia Sotomayor barring the Obama administration from enforcing a part of the Affordable Care Act against an order of nuns.
The health law requires most employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception. The nuns of the Little Sisters of the Poor said the requirement is offensive to their religious beliefs.
An accommodation allowing them to opt out of the requirement — by issuing a certification to an insurance company to offer the coverage independently — also made them complicit in immoral conduct, the nuns said. . . .
Newsweek: Sex and the Single Tween, by Abigail Jones:
. . . Over the past two decades, the rise of the Internet and social media initiated a dramatic shift in popular culture: Almost everything that could be sexualized has been sexualized, producing a new generation of girls racing toward womanhood before even finishing puberty. The result terrifies many adults: American women, age tween. . . .
The New York Times - The Stone blog: Should Pope Francis Rethink Abortion?, by Gary Gutting:
Pope Francis has raised expectations of a turn away from the dogmatic intransigence that has long cast a pall over the religious life of many Roman Catholics. His question “Who am I to judge?” suggested a new attitude toward homosexuality, and he is apparently willing to consider allowing the use of contraceptives to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. But his position on what has come to be the hierarchy’s signature issue — abortion — seems unyielding. “Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life,” he declared in his recent apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium,” adding: “Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the church cannot be expected to change her position on this question.”
I want to explore the possibility, however, that the pope might be open to significant revision of the absolute ban on abortion by asking what happens if we take seriously his claim that “reason alone is sufficient” to adjudicate this issue. . . .
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
The Huffington Post - The Blog: Beyond Single-Issue Politics on the 41st Anniversary of Roe v. Wade: Young Reproductive Rights Activists Are Social Justice Activists, by Kelley Robinson:
I have the privilege of leading Planned Parenthood's national youth and campus engagement programs -- The Planned Parenthood Generation and Planned Parenthood Generation Action -- and there is one thing that I know to be true: This is not just our mama's reproductive rights movement. Today, on the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we face unprecedented attacks on women's access to reproductive health care. It is more important than ever before to make sure we continue to have the right to safe and legal abortion, but the landscape has fundamentally changed and my generation is already fighting back.
We see reproductive rights from a multifaceted lens --- we understand that fighting for reproductive rights is about economic justice, about education access, about immigrant rights, and so much more. . . .
White House press release: Statement by the President on Roe v. Wade Anniversary:
Today, as we reflect on the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, we recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health. We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom. And we resolve to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children. Because this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.
The New York Times: Parties Seize on Abortion Issues in Midterm Race, by Jeremy W. Peters:
. . . Abortion is becoming an unexpectedly animating issue in the 2014 midterm elections. Republicans, through state ballot initiatives and legislation in Congress, are using it to stoke enthusiasm among core supporters. Democrats, mindful of how potent the subject has been in recent campaigns like last year’s governor’s race in Virginia, are looking to rally female voters by portraying their conservative opponents as callous on women’s issues. . . .
I found this passage interesting:
Coupling the issue of abortion with a subject important to Republicans’ Tea Party followers — government spending — is one way the party is recalibrating its election-year message. Republicans say that by framing the abortion debate in terms of fiscal conservatism, they can make a connection to the issue they believe will ultimately decide who controls Congress next year — the Affordable Care Act.
The GOP apparently doesn't feel confident that it can afford to address abortion head-on. Republicans are on the defensive, because they know they don't have public support for direct assaults on abortion. But as the GOP continues its stealth attacks on abortion, the struggle for pro-choice advocates and politicians will continue to be how to expose the Republicans' true agenda to voters.
Monday, January 20, 2014
RH Reality Check: Federal Appeals Court Reinstates Portion of NYC Law Regulating Crisis Pregnancy Centers, by Jessica Mason Pieklo:
Reproductive rights advocates scored an important victory
Friday, when afederal appeals court reinstated key components of a New York City law regulating crisis pregnancy centers.
A three-judge panel from the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reinstated the portion of the 2011 law that requires crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to disclose whether or not a licensed medical provider works at the facility. . . .
The New York Times: Proposed Abortion Restrictions in Spain Face Backlash, by Raphael Minder:
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s proposal to enact some of the toughest abortion restrictions in Europe has exposed his already unpopular government to a building political backlash and criticism from the European Parliament, while reinvigorating his Socialist opponents and opening divisions in his own conservative Popular Party.
On Sunday, demonstrators gathered in downtown Madrid to protest the government’s health care cuts and the abortion proposal, which was introduced in December and would allow the termination of a pregnancy only if it was the result of rape or if having the baby would significantly endanger the mother’s health. . . .
Jezebel: American Gets and Embarassing C- in Women's Reproductive Health, by Erin Gloria Ryan:
The Population Institute has released its annual State of Reproductive Health And Rights report card, and it seems that in the opinion of the massive educational nonprofit, America isn't doing so hot. If America were a high schooler, America would be grounded until America gets its grades up, otherwise America won't be getting into any colleges.
The report consolidates information most people who have been paying attention to the news probably suspected: as the federal government attempts to expand access to reproductive health care, right wing ideologues at the state level are working busily to ensure that women can't physically access the care the federal government is trying to expand. . . .
The fifty-state report is available here.