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Friday, December 18, 2015

A contribution to the SCOTUSblog symposium on the Little Sisters of the Poor

The good folks over at SCOTUSblog are hosting a symposium on the Little Sisters case, this term's religious-freedom challenge in the Supreme Court to the contraception-coverage mandate. Here is my contribution, "Integrity, Mission, and the Little Sisters of the Poor."  A bit:

. . . What the Little Sisters and the other religious non-profits have done is simply invoked the protection of a near-unanimously enacted federal statute that reflects the longstanding values of our own (and any decent) political community and the foundations of human-rights law. The administration’s response, the Supreme Court’s response, and our response should not be resentment or disdain but a genuine willingness to ask, “well, why not?” We should spend less time interrogating, second-guessing, or criticizing as impertinent their assertion of religious-freedom rights and more time considering, in an open-minded way, whether it is possible – perhaps with a bit of effort and flexibility – to accommodate them.

Some religious employers, of course, have been accommodated by the administration. Religious houses of worship, and some affiliated institutions, have been exempted from the contraception-coverage mandate. The Little Sisters, however – like many religious hospitals, schools, universities, and social-welfare agencies – are engaged in the world. They heal, teach, serve, and employ some who do not share their religious faith, but theirs is nevertheless a religious mission. They aspire to carry out this mission, just as many of us aspire to live our lives, with integrity and character. The preventive-services mandate, they say, thwarts this aspiration by changing – indeed, by hijacking – their relationships with their employees.

This claim about the character-distorting and integrity-undermining nature of the mandate – including the limited “accommodation” that the administration has provided – should not be difficult to understand. . . .

Check out also the other posts from (so far!) Erin Hawley, Chip Lupu, Bob Tuttle, Leslie Griffin, Helen Alvare, Marcia Greenberger, John Bursch, Fred Gedicks, and Lyle Denniston.

Posted by Rick Garnett on December 18, 2015 at 09:35 AM in Rick Garnett | Permalink

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