Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How Can There Be a Compromise?

5/17/2016—I’m going out on a limb here and saying the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is an ideological opponent of the Obama Administration. The Becket Fund provides the lead attorneys (maybe there are others, I don’t know) in Zubik v. Burwell, the challenge to contraception coverage under Obamacare that the US Supreme Court yesterday sent back to the lower courts to try to work out a compromise. But any compromise that is possible would be a win for the Administration, so how could the Becket Fund agree to any such compromise?

Why would any compromise be a win for the Administration? Because any agreement would ensure reproductive services for women employees of religious employers (again, I’m not following the details, but according to the media the services involved are only for women. I guess vasectomies are not provided by Obamacare, which is too bad). And, politically, any compromise would show that the Administration is not an enemy of religious liberty, which is a key ideological plank of conservative opposition to President Obama in particular and Democrats in general. The Becket Fund cannot afford to be part of that.

I am assuming two really serious and related points. First, the Becket Fund is ideological first and does not want to work with liberals to find common ground. Maybe I am wrong about that. If so, I will be happy to apologize. If I am right, the Becket Fund is not alone. Plenty of groups on the left are like that.

Second, and both related and defamatory, I am assuming that the Becket Fund puts its ideology ahead of the interests and desires of its clients. That is a serious charge because it would ordinarily get a lawyer disbarred. And, again, I don’t know this to be true. It just looks that way from afar. It is possible that the clients here are just as political and ideological as is the Becket Fund—could that be possible for the Little Sisters of the Poor?

I never understood this case from either a legal or a theological point of view. All the government ever asked of the religious institutions is that they fill out a form claiming they wanted to be exempt from certain coverages. At that point, their insurance companies provided the coverages for free. Economically this made no sense, of course, but no one ever showed that the plaintiffs were charged for anything. How could the plaintiffs have objected to this in the first place? Weren’t they really objecting to employees practicing birth control and did not want to say so? Why did they not just fire people who used these coverages? They could, you know.

So, I always thought the plaintiffs were picking a fight on purpose. The fact that the Supreme Court thinks there might possibly be room for compromise suggests to me that the Justices also cannot quite figure out what the problem is for the plaintiffs. But, months from now, when the election has been held, I predict that the cases will be back with no compromise.

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