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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Women’s Equality: Not a Radical Idea"

A ruling on a religious claim against the contraceptive benefit in ACA is telling on multiple levels as discussed at those two links.  

First, the very judge who wrote the opinion was one of the controversial picks of Obama that could only be confirmed by ending the filibuster for executive appointments.  A modern day RBG, Nina Pollard was a professor who was an experienced advocate including in many USSC cases.  RBG was appointed to the court of appeals in 1980 (an election year) without judicial experience.  She was if anything more of a feminist icon, leading the new ACLU division on women's rights.  But, things are more conservative now, and a simple majority was not enough.  Pollard went thru 51-44.

Second, the opinion itself is important since it carefully (being bound by Hobby Lobby) shows that this claim was a step too far, any tangential burden not enough. Also, the opinion spends pages to explain the compelling state interest behind the provision, something the plurality (on this point) in HL only assumed.  Thus, we have another important "brief for Kennedy" provided for via an eighty-five page appellate court decision.

I remain having a mixture of emotions, all bad, that this is a controversial matter.  The importance of contraceptives coverage (and abortion, even if precedent allows rank discrimination on the point)  on gender equality and women's health should be obvious. Also, providing a benefit also furthers free exercise, so such questions can rest on individual choice, not what is financially possible. Finally, once the government allows an exemption, even a requirement to fill out a form should not be deemed a substantial burden.  Some tangential connection will not do it either. 

A final personal note. It is time to renew health insurance under ACA and a little screw you to New York for not alphabetizing the providers in a long pull down list, which is not the only somewhat confusing part of the process. There will be bugs, especially early on.  Only one national party (some state Republicans are not trolls at times here) cares to address such things without denial of care overall, even if the Democrats do so imperfectly. And, as to the religious exemption thing, I actually know someone whose employer falls under that rubric. Plus, the very provider I chose turns out to be a Catholic one!  So, I have a personal stake here.

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