The Supreme Court Shamed The Most Anti-Abortion Court In The Country With Just 14 Words

— by Ian Millhiser

Credit: AP photo/Michael Dwyer

Friday afternoon, the Supreme Court handed down a very brief order allowing several Louisiana abortion clinics to reopen after a conservative federal appeals court forced them to shut down. Yet, while the Supreme Court’s order was very short — only slightly more than a paragraph long — it contained 14 more words than such an order normally would. And those 14 words appear to be a direct swipe at the appeals court that shut down Louisiana’s clinics in the first place.

To explain, the conservative United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has handed down a series of decisions that appear calculated to dismantle nearly all of Roe v. Wade within the three states (Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas) overseen by that court. In 2015, for example, the Fifth Circuit’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole gave states sweeping power to restrict abortion, so long as the restriction is dressed up as a health regulation. Among other things, this opinion blessed a provision of Texas law requiring abortion clinics to undergo expensive renovations in order to comply with regulations governing “ambulatory surgical centers,” even if the clinic does not actually perform any surgeries. Many Texas abortion clinics only offer medication abortions, which are induced by pills the woman takes orally.

An appeal of this Whole Woman’s Health decision is currently pending before the justices, and a majority of the Court appeared skeptical of the Fifth Circuit’s decision at oral arguments last Wednesday.

Just one week before the Supreme Court heard these arguments, however, the Fifth Circuit handed down another anti-abortion decision. In June Medical Services v. Gee, the Fifth Circuit granted an “emergency” motion reinstating a Louisiana law that was expected to shut down all but one of that state’s abortion clinics. The Louisiana law at issue in June Medical Services closely resembles a provision of the Texas law at issue in Whole Woman’s Health.

The Fifth Circuit’s order in June Medical Services was surprising, largely because the Supreme Court had already dropped some pretty big clues that a majority of the justices disapprove of the Fifth Circuit’s decisions forcing abortion clinics to close. Among other things, the justices stayed the Fifth Circuit’s Whole Woman’s Health decision pending the Supreme Court’s own resolution of the case — effectively enabling many Texas abortion clinics to remain open that would be closed if the Fifth Circuit’s order were still in effect.

Nevertheless, the Fifth Circuit decided not to take the hint that Texas-style attempts to shut down clinics should be placed on hold. Instead, the Fifth Circuit claimed in June Medical Services that it was free ignore this hint because, when the Supreme Court stayed Whole Woman’s Health, it did so in a brief order without explaining its reasoning. “No guidance can be gleaned from the Supreme Court’s vacating portions of the stay without explanation,” according to the lower court, “as we cannot discern the underlying reasoning from the one-paragraph order.”

Which brings us back to the 14 significant words in the Supreme Court’s most recent order. “Consistent with the Court’s action granting a stay in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole,” that order begins, the Fifth Circuit’s order reinstating the Louisiana law is vacated.

These 14 words are a subtle spanking, but they are a spanking nonetheless. They directly contradict the Fifth Circuit’s claim that it can ignore the Supreme Court’s previous stay orders if the lower court “cannot discern the underlying reasoning” behind those orders. And they rebut the Fifth Circuit’s logic on its own terms. Why shouldn’t lower courts allow Texas-style abortion restrictions to go into effect in the future? Because halting these laws is “consistent with the Court’s action granting a stay in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole.”

To be clear, it is normally a dangerous practice to read too much into a one-paragraph order like the one the Supreme Court handed down Friday. This order provides only a limited window into the Court’s thinking, and it deals only with a preliminary issue facing the Fifth Circuit in June Medical Services. The conservative appeals court will have another opportunity to hear this case, and that will give it another opportunity to make mischief for abortion providers.

But the Supreme Court is now signalling very loudly that a majority of the Court is not pleased with the Fifth Circuit’s efforts to pare Roe v. Wade down to near nothingness. If the lower court’s judges do decide to make more mischief, they will probably wind up on the receiving end of yet another judicial spanking.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe. ‘Like’ CAP Action on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter

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Republican Presidential Candidates Want You To Know They Are Against LGBT Rights

— by Zack Ford Dec 8, 2015 4:20 PM

Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz at the Presidential Family Forum in Iowa last month.

Over the past few weeks, several Republican presidential candidates have served up attacks on LGBT people, recommitting themselves to persecution by rolling back gains for equality and enshrining the right to discriminate into law. The comments all seem to be popping up as the candidates have stayed relatively mum on issues like abortion, gun control violence, and Islamophobia, despite recent tragedies spotlighting those issues in the media.

Here are some of the recent anti-LGBT highlights from the Republican primary.

Marco Rubio
In an interview this weekend with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network, Marco Rubio outlined outlined extensive plans for enabling discrimination against LGBT people in the name of religious liberty. As president, Rubio said he would do the following:

  • Rescind President Obama’s executive order protecting the LGBT employees of federal contractors.
  • Only appoint Supreme Court Justices committed to undoing marriage equality and a woman’s right to an abortion.
  • Protect religious organizations that wish to refuse service to same-sex couples.

Rubio seemed to imply that employing and serving LGBT people were themselves sinful actions. “There are many government contractors and small companies who provide services to the government who are faith-based people, and they are being compelled to sin by government in their business conduct,” he said. “That is not something we should be supporting.”

Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz recently sat down with National Organization for Marriage founder Robert George for an interview on EWTN, a Catholic television network. In one segment, Cruz agreed with George that the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision was “profoundly wrong,” “fundamentally illegitimate,” “lawless,” and “not based on the Constitution.”

Cruz then referenced Justice Anthony Kennedy’s recent comments that a public official that can not follow the decision, like Kim Davis, should resign. During his remarks, Kennedy alluded to the fact that very few judges resigned from the Nazi German government. Thus, Cruz claimed, he was comparing the Supreme Court to Nazis. “This isn’t me calling them the Nazis,” Cruz explained, “this is Justice Kennedy calling the court on which he serves, calling the opinion that he wrote — analogizing that to the Nazi decrees that we must obey. That is an arrogance, it is an elitism, it is being out of touch with our nation.”

In another segment, Cruz fielded a question about accommodations for transgender students in public schools. He condemned such policies as “ridiculous” decisions made by “zealots.” “I don’t want my daughters taking showers with little boys; I don’t want them when they’re in junior high or high school. And it’s absurd. No parents do.”

Cruz pledged to end Common Core and abolish the Department of Education entirely, so there would be no federal agency to enforce Title IX to protect transgender students.

Mike Huckabee
Mike Huckabee also talked to Robert George for an hour late last month and offered his own renditions on many of the same points. Huckabee would “absolutely decline” to enforce the marriage equality decision, because “it’s a matter of saving our republic.” He’d also ensure that he had an attorney general who “would protect in every way the rights of those citizens who joined in disagreeing.”

As such, Huckabee would pass the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) in his first 100 days. The bill would prohibit the federal government from acting against any organization that discriminates against same-sex couples, creating a widespread license to discriminate. Citing examples of wedding vendors who would refuse to serve same-sex couples or schools that would refuse to recognize their marriages, he pledged the federal government under his leadership would side with them if a state is trying to enforce a nondiscrimination law.

Huckabee also chimed in on transgender school protections, calling it a “ludicrous notion” that someone “can just wake up one day and say, ‘You know, I know I have the biological makeup of a male and I have the gene — I’m genetically male, but I kind of feel feminine today,’ or ‘I’m going to feel feminine for the next year or the rest of my life.’”

He described it as “most baffling” than anyone could thoughtfully “defend the notion that it is normal — that it is perfectly legitimate — for a person just to declare oneself to be a different gender. It borders on laughable, and I know to say it’s laughable would bring great contempt because people would say you’re being insensitive. I’m not being insensitive. I’m exercising just a little bit of common sense.”

Huckabee similarly exercised his little bit of common sense earlier this year when he joked that he wished transgender protections existed when he was a kid, because he would’ve found his “feminine side” so he could “shower with the girls.”

Ben Carson
Over the weekend, Ben Carson said at a town hall event that he misses “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the policy that discriminated against lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in the military. “Why do you have to go around flaunting your sexuality?” he asked. “It’s not necessary. You don’t need to talk about that. We need to talk about how we eliminate the enemy.”

He also opposed allowing transgender people to serve, worrying that the military is being used as “a laboratory for social experimentation.” “Deal with the transgender thing somewhere else,” he said. Last month, Carson similarly said that trans people don’t deserve “extra rights,” like equal access to safely use the bathroom. The ban on transgender military service will be lifted this spring.

At a recent debate, Carson took umbrage at the notion that he might be described as a “homophobe” for his frequent anti-LGBT comments. When he apologized earlier this year for suggesting that homosexuality is a choice because prison turns people gay, he announced that he wasn’t going to talk about “gay rights” issues anymore.

That hasn’t proven to be the case for him or any of his fellow candidates.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe. ‘Like’ CAP Action on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter

‘Clear Flouting of Roe v. Wade’: Court Strikes Down Anti-Choice Bill in Wisconsin

Ruling could set important precedent for upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case
by Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams staff writer

Had the Wisconsin law taken effect, at least one of the state’s four remaining abortion providers would have been forced to close immediately. (Photo: Joe Gratz/flickr/cc)

Striking down a state effort to “politically interfere” with a woman’s right to choose, a federal appeals court on Monday declared a Wisconsin law unconstitutional in a ruling reproductive rights advocates say is both a “victory” and an important precedent for an upcoming Supreme Court decision.

In his searing rebuke, Judge Richard Posner with the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, said the law was a “clear flouting of Roe v. Wade.”

The ruling applied to a measure signed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2013, known as a TRAP law—short for “targeted regulation of abortion providers.” It stipulated that an abortion provider must have admitting privileges at a local hospital, mirroring policies passed in 10 other states.

In the opinion, Judge Posner echoed the concern of medical experts, who argued that the political maneuver both threatened a woman’s constitutional right and endangered her health.

“What makes no sense is to abridge the constitutional right to an abortion on the basis of spurious contentions regarding women’s health,” Posner stated.

Indeed, during the federal trial, an independent, court-appointed medical expert said of the Wisconsin law: “I think it is an unacceptable experiment to see if you decrease access (to abortion) and see if more women die. It is not acceptable. It is not ethical.”

Following Monday’s ruling, Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, said, “The federal appeals court in Wisconsin recognized what the medical experts have been saying all along: These laws aren’t about protecting women’s health, they are about shutting down clinics and preventing a woman who has decided to have an abortion from actually getting one.”

Monday’s 2-1 ruling blocks a state effort to revive the law after it was struck down by a lower court in March.

Texas is facing a U.S. Supreme Court battle over its “draconian” version of the TRAP law, in a similar case said to have wide implications for national abortion rights. The Texas law has forced the closure of over half of the state’s women’s health clinics and, according to researchers, driven up to 240,000 women in the state to dangerously attempt to end pregnancies on their own.

Had the Wisconsin law taken effect, at least one of the state’s four remaining abortion providers would have been forced to close immediately. Advocates say the resulting backlog would have “delay[ed] procedures by up to 10 weeks, forcing abortions later in pregnancy, if a woman is able to have one at all.” Earlier this year, Walker signed a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy with an extremely narrow exception for medical emergencies.

In a statement Monday, Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the Wisconsin ruling was “an important victory for women’s health and rights.”

“Laws restricting abortion hurt women—as we’ve seen in states like Texas, where restrictions are already forcing women to end pregnancies on their own, without medical assistance,” Richards said. “This is what we all feared would happen, and we’re deeply concerned that we’ll see this more and more if the Supreme Court does not intervene.”


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The Right-Wing’s UnAmerican Rhetoric

Hitler1aFrankly, I’m ashamed of the anti-islamic rhetoric being spewed forth by those on the right (or should I say wrong) side of the political spectrum.  With Republican candidates calling refugees nothing more than rabid dogs (Ben Carson), espousing registration of anyone who is a Muslim (Donald Trump), saying that we should take in ‘Christian’ refugees but not ‘Muslim refugees (Bush) and stomping the crap out of our constitutional right to freedom of assembly (Marco Rubio), I truly hope Americans start waking up to what the Republican party has apparently become — the party of Hitler.

Here’s a few of the headlines that make me wonder exactly “what” the Republicans want to “take our country back to.”

Articles from the right

Articles from the left

Meanwhile, newly anointed Speaker Ryan pushed forth legislation (HR 4038) that would pretty much put a halt to resettlement of any Syrian refugees on U.S. soil claiming “It’s a security test, not a religious test. This reflects our values.”  HR4038, which was passed by the House yesterday, was introduced shortly after the terrorist attacks by the fear mongerers of the right-wing.  Never mind that the attacks in Paris were NOT conducted by Syrians, but by homegrown radicalized French and Belgian domestic terrorists.  So while any French or Belgian domestic terrorist could present their official EU passport, travel to the U.S. and commit an act of terrorism in the U.S., we’ll be preventing non-violent Syrian refugees from being able to escape the horrors of terrorism for themselves and their family.

Speaker Ryan has portrayed our current vetting process as being seriously broken, Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD5), on the other hand, claims he’s wrong. “The bill rests on a faulty assumption that the European refugee screening process is similar to the United States screening process. This is entirely inaccurate,” he wrote in today’s Daily Whip. Rather than improve security, Hoyer said that HR4038 would prevent refugees from entering the country by making the vetting process overly inefficient. He described the bill as a “knee-jerk reaction” to a situation in Europe dissimilar to our own.  Unfortunately, even with Democratic leadership against the bill, one-fourth of Democrats succumbed to the hysteria and voted to pass it in the House vote.

Under existing law, the United States vets refugees for one-and-a-half to two years before allowing refugees to enter the country. If enacted (President Obama has vowed to veto it), this bill would likely halt the screening process.  Just as the Republicans have never gotten around to proposing any alternative to the Affordable Care Act, and as they’ve passed one bill after another to nullify any actions taken by the EPA to protect our environment, they’d likely pass yet another bill to nullify any actions taken to rectify their ‘vetting’ concerns.

The Paris attacks have sparked deeply troubling, abhorrent anti-Muslim rhetoric and anti-immigrant policy proposals from the Republicans in Congress that not only don’t represent our American values, but they’re contrary to the principles outlined in our U.S. Constitution.  I just hope that Americans, especially those new citizen immigrants, all across our nation are paying attention. Enough is enough!  It’s time for us to cast our votes FOR American values and AGAINST those who have clearly demonstrated they would trample them in a heartbeat.

YOU May Not Be Allowed to Vote in the Next Election

VoterIDThree bills that threaten OUR rights to vote were introduced this month at the Nevada Legislature.  They are unwarranted legislation in search of a problem that doesn’t exist.  We cannot let them become law!

SB 169, AB 253, and AB 266 require voters to show a limited number of acceptable forms of ID. These types of Voter ID laws impact vulnerable populations who are left struggling to obtain identification that will allow them to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

Introductions of AB 253 and AB 266 were held on Tuesday, March 17, in Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections at 4 p.m. Contact your Assembly member now and let them know that you oppose any Voter ID bills that will make it difficult for Nevada’s citizens to vote.

There is a false notion that every Nevadan has an ID and if they don’t, they can easily walk over to the DMV and get one. The “Let Nevadans Vote” coalition has been conducting surveys with vulnerable populations such as the elderly and homeless families and through that process, they’ve learned just how difficult it is to obtain an ID. Here are a few of their stories with names removed to protect their privacy:

One Reno woman moved here from another state and lacks a Nevada ID. Her supporting documents were lost to theft and she’s had difficulty just getting a copy of her birth certificate, saying it was “hard as heck” and she has to “jump through hoops.” She’s indigent and reports having both physical and mental disabilities, and relies on public transportation to get around.

A 2014 voter registered as a nonpartisan is currently jobless, homeless, and relies on public transit that he can barely afford. His birth certificate and social security card were stolen, a common occurrence when experiencing homelessness. The only ID he has is a Clarity Card issued by Catholic Charities, which doesn’t meet the requirements of this bill.

Another voter lives in a rural county, 90 miles away from the only DMV office in her county. Everybody in her local community knows her upon sight, but she doesn’t have the requisite ID prescribed by the legislation being proposed to allow her to vote.  She doesn’t drive.  She doesn’t own a car.  She doesn’t have a valid driver’s license (why would she?).  Now add to that, that there is no available public transportation she could utilize to make the hour and a half trip to the DMV to get the ID, nor to make the hour and a half trip back to her home.

Yet another man lives in a rural county in a group facility for those with disabilities. He’s a Vietnam War veteran and Agent Orange snuck up him some time ago.  He’s been voting by mail-in ballot for some time now.  Like the lady in the last example, it’s 90 miles to the nearest DMV facility.  He no longer drives and he also doesn’t have a car or a valid Driver’s license.  There’s no public transportation, and even if there was, just the 3-hour round trip would be exceptionally stressful given his current health conditions.  To be able to vote in future elections, he would not only need to make the trip to the DMV but to the Registrar of Voters office as well to present his ID for the record.

In each of these cases, an undue burden  is placed on each person who should clearly be qualified to vote.  Please contact your Assembly member and make it clear that, as their constituent, you oppose passage of Voter ID bills SB 169, AB 253, and AB266.  You can also use the “Opinions” app at the 2015 NV Legislative Session page to read the bills and comments from others as well as to leave your comments about each bill:  https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/Opinions/78th2015/A/

It’s Women’s History Month—So Naturally—Republicans Wage Sneak Attack

By CAP Action War Room

The Latest Ploy in The Ongoing Attack on Women’s Health

PoisonPill08
GOP breaks out their favorite Poison Pill … Again!

Women’s access to basic health care continues to be under attack at both the state and federal level. The most recent threat came this week when Republican lawmakers in the Senate snuck anti-choice provisions into a bipartisan bill aimed at helping victims of human trafficking. The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (S. 178), which would establish a fund for victims of human trafficking, wasn’t supposed to be controversial. In fact, it enjoyed wide bipartisan support until Senate Democrats discovered that Republicans added language that would restrict federal funding for abortion–even forcing underage victims of rape to carry their pregnancies to term. Democrats have now vowed to hold the entire bill until the anti-choice language is removed.

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act is just the latest attempt to restrict women’s reproductive rights on the national level. Unfortunately, actions on the state level are even worse. Last week, West Virginia Republicans overrode a gubernatorial veto and passed a 20-week abortion ban. With the veto override, West Virginia became the 11th state to prohibit abortions past 20-weeks, despite the fact that over the last few years courts have blocked several 20-week abortion bans for violating protections offered under Roe v. Wade. Montana and New Mexico are among other states considering 20-week bans under the guise of “fetal pain,” which scientists agree does not exist. And earlier this month, Wisconsin Governor and likely 2016 presidential candidate Scott Walker also said he would sign a 20-week ban.

While Democrats have been able to prevent anti-choice language from creeping into federal law thus far, these state-based corrosive efforts are working. A ThinkProgress investigation found that the maze of state abortion restrictions, usually framed as legal regulations, is driving the price of abortion services up so high that lower-income women are effectively priced out of the market. The attack on women’s healthcare has gone so far that a Texas Republican legislator has protested her colleagues’ proposal to cut funding for cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood clinics, saying that without that “provider network, women cannot be served. And they will die.”

BOTTOM LINE: From trying to shut down the Department of Homeland Security, to undermining international agreements with Iran, to voting 56 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Republican Party has proven it is unfit to govern. These recent threats to women’s health are just another example of how out-of-touch and dangerous GOP policies can be.

As an aside:  Senator Heller has submitted an amendment (S.Amdt 283) to this bill, however, the text of his amendment has not yet been posted to Congress.gov.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.  Like CAP Action on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

The President Just Announced This —

Our immigration system has been broken for decades. And every day we wait to act, millions of undocumented immigrants are living in the shadows: Those who want to pay taxes and play by the same rules as everyone else have no way to live right by the law. That is why President Obama is using his executive authority to address as much of the problem as he can, and why he’ll continue to work with Congress to pass comprehensive reform.

ImmigrationPlan

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Republican Revisionist Propaganda, oops, I Mean History

According to Republican leadership, “No other president in history has used Executive powers to change immigration policy.” Really? NO other President in history?  Do they own a history book? Can they read?  Senator Barbara Boxer can, and she put out this tidy little list this morning on Twitter:

ImmigrationEOs

A President may not be able to provide a “pathway to citizenship” via Executive action, but under the authority granted by our Constitution to the President, he/she can certainly prioritize where INS should focus its efforts. Instead of breaking up working, nurturing families to deport the parents and then relegating their American-born citizen children to foster care at taxpayer expense for years, it makes much more sense to focus on rooting out criminal elements and deporting them to their countries of origin.

Speaker Boehner has had two solid years to come up with something of his own, and he’s had a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill (S744) that was passed in the senate on 6/27/2013.  Speaker Boehner alone, has been the one blocking a vote in the US House on this bill, which many claim, has more than the requisite 218 Representatives willing to stand up and vote “AYE” for passage.

Corporate Rights Trump Women’s Health in Hobby Lobby Ruling

‘This ruling goes out of its way to declare that discrimination against women isn’t discrimination.’

– Lauren McCauley, staff writer at Common Dreams

SCOTUS5

Defenders of women’s health and reproductive freedom are reacting with anger to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Monday which ruled that an employer with religious objection can opt out of providing contraception coverage to their employees under the Affordable Care Act.

Writing for the majority side of the 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Justice Samuel Alito argued that the “the HHS mandate demands that they engage in conduct that seriously violates [employers’] religious beliefs.”

Rights advocates were quick to condemn the court’s decision.

“Today’s decision from five male justices is a direct attack on women and our fundamental rights. This ruling goes out of its way to declare that discrimination against women isn’t discrimination,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

“Allowing bosses this much control over the health-care decisions of their employees is a slippery slope with no end,” Hogue continued. “Every American could potentially be affected by this far-reaching and shocking decision that allows bosses to reach beyond the boardroom and into their employees’ bedrooms. The majority claims that its ruling is limited, but that logic doesn’t hold up. Today it’s birth control; tomorrow it could be any personal medical decision, from starting a family to getting life-saving vaccinations or blood transfusions.”

Ninety-nine percent of sexually active women in the U.S. use birth control for a variety of health reasons, according to research by women’s health organizations.

“The fact of the matter is that birth control is a wildly popular and medically necessary part of women’s health care,” said Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet, a national women’s advocacy organization. Chaudhary adds that despite it’s clear necessity for the reproductive health of the majority of women, one in three women have struggled at some point to afford birth control.

Monday’s ruling focuses specifically on companies that are “closely-held,” which analysts report covers over 90 percent of businesses in the United States.

The dissenting opinion, penned by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and supported by Justice Sonia Sotomayor and mostly joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer, acknowledges that the decision was of “startling breadth” and said that it allows companies to “opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

In the Court’s view, RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on third parties who do not share the corporation owners’ religious faith—in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents of persons those corporations employ. Persuaded that Congress enacted RFRA to serve a far less radical purpose, and mindful of the havoc the Court’s judgment can introduce, I dissent. —Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The opinion was based largely on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which provides that a law that burdens a person’s religious beliefs must be justified by a compelling government interest.

“There is an overriding interest, I believe, in keeping the courts ‘out of the business of evaluating the relative merits of differing religious claims,'” Ginsburg adds, concluding: “The Court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

Echoing Ginsburg’s concern, Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State called the ruling “a double-edged disaster,” saying it “conjures up fake religious freedom rights for corporations while being blind to the importance of birth control to America’s working women.”

Similar reactions were expressed on Twitter following the news. Summarizing the crux of the decision, NBC producer Jamil Smith wrote:

The Hobby Lobby decision means that in terms of personhood, corporations > women. And Christianity > everyone else.

— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) June 30, 2014

Others, joining Ginsburg’s outrage that now “legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs” would be denied essential health coverage, expressed their opinions under the banner “#jointhedissent.”

#jointhedissent Tweets

HobbyLobby02

The majority opinion leaves open the possibility that the federal government can cover the cost of contraceptives for women whose employers opt out, leaving many to look to the Obama administration for their next move.

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If This is What it Means to be “Conservative” — I’m Proudly a Bleeding Heart Liberal

Clearly, members of the GOP in the House are all about looking for ways to handicap ANY organization tasked with performing regulatory actions that might impede their ideological plans for the future of the United States of Republica.  A case in point is this recent  press release from Representative Amodei’s office.  My comments are in blue italics at various points throughout his release.  Some original text has been highlight in RED for emphasis.

Amodei: Appropriations Financial Services bill reins in IRS, ACA and Dodd Frank

Wednesday June 18, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 Contact:    Brian Baluta, 202-225-6155

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee today passed its fiscal year 2015 bill, which would provide annual funding for the Treasury Department, the Judiciary, the Small Business Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission and several other agencies.

The bill totals $21.3 billion in funding for these agencies, which is $566 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $2.3 billion below the president’s request for these programs.The legislation prioritizes programs critical to enforcing laws, maintaining an effective judiciary system and helping small businesses, while targeting lower-priority or poor-performing programs – such as the Internal Revenue Service – for reductions.

Well now, that makes just a ton of sense.  IRS is tasked with collecting revenue necessary for the operation of various government operations … so let’s under fund them so we can then make a scapegoat of them when they can no longer effectively perform their regulatory and tax-collecting functions.

“Every day, I am asked, ‘Why don’t you do something?’ This bill ‘does something’ by removing funding from executive agencies that have become political tools of the administration,” said Amodei.   

Bill highlights:

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)– Included in the bill is $10.95 billion for the IRS – a cut of $341 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $1.5 billion below the President’s budget request. This will bring the agency’s budget below the sequester level and below the level that was in place in fiscal year 2008. This funding level is sufficient for the IRS to perform its core duties, including taxpayer services and the proper collection of funds, but will require the agency to streamline and make better use of its budget.

Interesting! They continually carp about the IRS not providing for an EMAIL BACKUP strategy as part of their business plan. Server BACKUPs are NOT FREE!  How much more will they stop BACKING UP because they no longer have sufficient funding to do their tax collection duties, let alone ancillary functions like BACKUPS, SYSTEM UPDATES, SOFTWARE IMPROVEMENTS, etc.?

In addition, due to the inappropriate actions by the IRS in targeting groups that hold certain political beliefs, as well as its previous improper use of taxpayer funds, the bill includes the following provisions:

Here we go again, perpetuating the falsehood that ONLY right-wing political groups were scrutinized, when it was actually liberal groups that were denied with some that had already been given tax-exempt status seeing that status revoked (e.g., EmergeAmerica affiliated groups).  NO politically-focused groups should be receiving TAX-EXEMPT 501(c)(4) status, PERIOD!

A prohibition on a proposed regulation related to political activities and the tax-exempt status of 501(c)(4) organizations. The proposed regulation could jeopardize the tax-exempt status of many non-profit organizations and inhibit citizens from exercising their right to freedom of speech, simply because they may be involved in political activity.

Sorry, but I don’t get to deduct my “freedom of speech” contributions to political endeavors.  Thus, NO politically-focused organizations should be able to have a free of tax right to free speech at the American Taxpayer’s expense!

A prohibition on funds for bonuses or awards unless employee conduct and tax compliance are given consideration.

A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs.

Congress passed a law that clearly states that to be considered 501(c)(4) organization, your activities must be EXCLUSIVELY-FOCUSED on “Social Welfare” activities.  Politically-focused activities are NOT social-welfare activities and thus, it IS the IRS’s responsibility to scrutinize and deny tax-exempt status to ANY organization (conservative, liberal or otherwise) not meeting that exclusivity provision.

A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target individuals for exercising their First Amendment rights.

More BS related to the previous proviso — the IRS is NOT prohibiting ANYONE from exercising their free speech.  The IRS is merely and rightfully determining whether a group is a group exclusively devoted to providing SOCIAL-WELFARE opportunities/activities and thus, whether that group is entitled to TAX-EXEMPT status!

A prohibition on funding for the production of inappropriate videos and conferences.

Really?  Oh, please, pray tell, what “inappropriate videos” might it be that the IRS is producing?

A prohibition on funding for the White House to order the IRS to determine the tax-exempt status of an organization.

Again, if you want to allow any organization wanting to conduct EXCLUSIVELY politically focused activities to never have to pay taxes, well then, you need to REPEAL the law that PROHIBITS them from being tax exempt!  You cannot have a LAW on the books that says one thing and then prohibit the IRS, which is responsible for administering that section of the law, from enforcing it!

A requirement for extensive reporting on IRS spending.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) –The bill also includes provisions to stop the IRS from further implementing ObamaCare, including a prohibition on any transfers of funding from the Department of Health and Human Services to the IRS for ObamaCare uses, and a prohibition on funding for the IRS to implement an individual insurance mandate on the American people.

Well, let’s see.  We elected President Obama and a Democratic Congress to get health care reform. Then, the Republican propaganda machine bought a Republican House.  Despite their efforts to gerry-rig the system, we still re-elected President Obama. Health care reform is one of the hardest things we’ve ever worked on. But no matter, they just keep trying to either LIE ABOUT REPEAL or DEFUND access to healthcare for the American People despite its need or popularity.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)– Included in the bill is $1.4 billion for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which is $50 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $300 million below the President’s budget request. The increase in funds is targeted specifically toward critical information technology initiatives. The legislation also includes a prohibition on the SEC spending any money out of its “reserve fund” – essentially a slush fund for the SEC to use without any congressional oversight.

In addition, the legislation contains requirements for the Administration to report to Congress on the cost and regulatory burdens of the Dodd-Frank Act, and a prohibition on funding to require political donation information in SEC filings.

My my, lookie here — looks like an increase in funding.  But wait, isn’t this the organization that’s supposed to regulate Wall Street?  It’s a shame that the increase in funding is just for a bit of information technology so they can determine how their GOP-Donor base is affected by any sort of regulation.  It’s also despicable that they’ve included a proviso that PROHIBITS any reporting of information as to Corporate political donations.  If you and I donate, our freedom of speech is broadcast for all to see … but the Republican Donor-base has a special privileged secreted freedom of speech.  Apparently the Republicans believe their Donors are free to speak with their Dollars, but the general American public is underserving of being able to speak with their dollars in response.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)– The bill includes a provision to change the funding source for the CFPB from the Federal Reserve to the congressional appropriations process, starting in fiscal year 2016. Currently, funding for this agency is provided by mandatory spending and is not subject to annual congressional review. This change will allow for increased accountability and transparency of the agency’s activities and use of tax dollars. The legislation also requires extensive reporting on CFPB activities.

The Republicans have done EVERYTHING conceivably possible to handicap, repeal, defund and decapitate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).  This is yet their latest attempt to defund and cripple any and all Consumer financial protection at the behest of their Donor-base.