Fomrer Times editor Bill Keller, who presumably has no angst about whether corporations have a Constitutional right to a free press, explains that corporations don't have a right to religious freedom.
This is all part of the ObamaCare shuffle on contraceptive coverage, but we implore Mr. Keller to send better strawmen:
“If an employer can craft a benefits system around his religious beliefs, that’s a slippery slope,” said Marci Hamilton, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and a critic of religious exemptions. “Can you deny treatment of AIDS victims because your religion disapproves of homosexuals? What if your for-profit employer is a Jehovah’s Witness, who doesn’t believe in blood transfusions?”
A slippery slope! But is this really new ground? We have had Catholic organizations dealing with the AIDS issue for the last thirty years. Let me quote PBS:
RAY SUAREZ: Judy, there's a massive audience for whatever the Catholic Church teaches in this regard, because you have to remember that, with over 1 billion members around the world, one out of every six people on planet Earth is a Catholic.
And the Catholic Church has been very hard at work in the hardest-hit countries in the world when it's come to the scourge of HIV and AIDS. There are, in fact, 117,000 Catholic medical facilities, from clinics in the deepest jungle to large urban hospitals in the developing world, that are involved in treating both people that are already infected with AIDS and trying to prevent the transmission to at-risk populations.
Or the Times from 1993:
In places like New York, which leads the country in reported AIDS cases, Catholic institutions, with heavy financial support from the Government, have been major providers of care to AIDS patients.
The problem is on the contraception side:
But citing its moral imperatives, the church has resisted teaching prevention messages widely recommended by public health officials, like the use of condoms or instructions on cleaning hypodermic needles used for intravenous drugs. Church officials say that the only morally correct way to prevent AIDS is by avoiding drugs and by practicing fidelity within marriage and abstinence outside it.
Both John Cardinal O'Connor, head of the Archdiocese of New York, and his director of health and hospitals declined to be interviewed, but his spokesman, Joseph G. Zwilling, said that even with the constraints on what information hospitals provide, he is confident of the treatment they offer.
"We believe we provide excellent care for our patients," he said.
And Sandra Fluke's alma mater specifically excludes contraceptive coverage but makes no mention of excluding AIDS treatment. However, they will cover experimental AIDS drugs in a clinical trial, which strongly suggests they will cover conventional AIDS treatment as well.
As to the Jehovah's Witness puzzle, I stand by my tirade from one year ago - we have had employer sponsored health coverage and Jehovah's Witnesses co-existing for decades. Has there been a problem up to now?
Mr. Keller leaves us laughing with this:
Also, courts tend to distinguish between laws that make you do something and laws that merely require a financial payment. In the days of the draft, conscientious objectors were exempted from conscription. A sincere pacifist could not be obliged to kill. But a pacifist is not excused from paying taxes just because he or she objects to the money being spent on war. Doctors who find abortions morally abhorrent are not obliged to perform them. But you cannot withhold taxes because some of the money goes to Medicaid-financed abortion.
I don’t know what the courts will say, but common sense says the contraception dispute is more like taxation than conscription.
Hmm, does Mr. Keller's common sense oblige him to read the Religious Freedom Restoration Act? That is the current law of the land, passed overwhelmingly by a Democratric House and Senate in 1993 and signed by Bill Clinton. Among its requirements:
(b) Exception: Government may substantially burden a person's exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person-
(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
There are serious questions about whether, in a land of free family planning clinics, the employer insurance mandate is the least restrictive means of accomplishing this governmental goal. Maybe an employer mandate looks less like conscription and more like a tax, but a tax to fund clinics would really look like a tax, and is consistent with current policy.