” Clowns to left of me, jokers to the right, Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.” Lyrics- Steve Healy band.
The “you” in Steve Healy song, are the plain facts about the latest case to come before the Supreme Court. Most people are not interested in facts. The clowns and jokers are far more entertaining for their 90 seconds of fame. I dedicate this blog to my favorite clown/joker Graham Ledger, truly outstanding for his total certainty on topics of which he has no real knowledge. One day it will be Iran, the next Obamacare or the deficit. He is a truly non-stop Obama basher. When lesser minds prevail, God save us all!
Oral arguments were held on March 24, in Zubrik v Burswell in the Obamacare case.
We think of religious freedom as guaranteed under the First Amendment. In fact, our rights are further extended and defined by many other laws and rulings by the courts. Religious freedoms, as with every right in the Bill of Rights, are limited. You may not refuse to pay your taxes, because that is a violation of your religious principles. If your religious principles says that you can not hire blacks or Muslims in your business, the laws related to race and religious discrimination will likely supersede these religious beliefs.
I will examine religious freedoms in a separate blog. It isn’t as Ted Cruz or Graham Ledger portray it. They extract from many cases, a select few concerning Catholics and ignore many other cases from lesser religions.
But the Zubrik case involves the extend of religious accommodations based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA which the justices refer to as “ree fra). It is not a constitutional case. This is the mistake made by conservative commentators on Fox News and One American News.
It is about whether accommodations made in the ACA (aka Obamacare) for those seeking exceptions to the contraceptive program are adequate. Or do these accommodations in fact become burdensome as the plaintiffs claim. In attempting to enforce the RFRA, could the court go as far as say anybody could opt out of any part of Obamacare, because in their minds, it conflicts with their religious beliefs? In doing so, what is slowly eroded is this notion of a standard set of benefits, independent of the provider of the insurance. Of course, this is exactly what those opposed to Obamacare want.
A lot of Supreme Court observers expect the court will divide 4-4 in which case, the lower court cases stand. I believe it will be a 5-3 decision, with Justice Anthony Kennedy siding with the liberal group. It is possible that the decision will be 6-2, with both Roberts and Kennedy joining the liberal side. There is a final option to hold over the case, in hopes that the Congress will approve a new justice.
We shall find out in June, 2016.
In the next few blogs, I hope to go a bit deeper into religious freedom. It is crazier than you think!