Sotomayor blocks mandate--for now

The Associated Press reports tonight that in a late night ruling Justice Sonia Sotomayor has blocked the implementation of portions of President Barack Obama's health care law that would have forced some faith-affiliated organizations to provide health insurance for employees that includes birth control. Her decision followed efforts by Catholic-affiliated groups in federal courts around the nation to stop Wednesday's start of portions of the Affordable Care Act. Justice Sotomayor is giving the government until Friday morning to respond to her decision. More here. Sotomayor's order is here.

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Rosemary McHugh
3 years 10 months ago
As a Catholic who is a physician, I was disappointed to read that the Supreme Court, by the action of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, has halted the contraception mandate for religious groups. On reflection, it might be a good thing to do for now, in order for the situation to calm down. For many years I taught women and couples the natural methods of family planning, including the Billings Mucus Method and the Sympto-thermal Method. I found that many couples could not use these methods for various reasons, so they opted for condoms, birth control pills, etc. In a democracy where church and state are separate, I believe that it is important for individual rights to trump the rights of an organization or business. When it comes to a woman's reproductive rights that are allowed by law, it is the responsibility of the Supreme Court to protect the rights of the individual to determine her/his personal medical needs. The employer has no right to interfere with the decisions of an employee and the employee's physician, in my view. Sincerely, Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh, M.D., Chicago, Illinois
Vince Killoran
3 years 10 months ago
Thanks for your perceptive comments Dr. McHugh. My legal scholars friends tell me this is a technical and temporary order.
ed gleason
3 years 10 months ago
"forcing Catholic institutions to violate their consciences" : St Thomas would ask you where the conscience of an institution resides. CEO, Board of directors, mission statement, stockholders... where ? Pope Paul VI chose not to call the Majority on the birth control commission who diagreed with him ,, dissidents and so neither should you. I knew the Crowleys of CFM in Chicago and they were not dissidents.
Henry Q
3 years 10 months ago
Ed, Since the CCC and other Magisterial documents say that contraception is not morally acceptable - (see paragraph #2399 which states; “The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception)) and the Oxford English Dictionary defines dissident as “disagreeing or differing (in opinion, character, etc.); at variance, different. Const. from” it isn't necessarily "unrealistic” to say - in A.D. 2014 - that those that disagree are dissidents - don't you agree? Yes, I can agree that it might not be “nice” to do so but it would definitely, IMO, be an accurate description!
Henry Q
3 years 10 months ago
Dr. McHugh — you may be interested in reading a paper titled: “Individual Rights vs. Institutional Identity: The Relational Dimension of Conscience in Health Care” – which can be downloaded for free here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1595151 The first paragraph reads: “Given the morally controversial nature of developing medical technologies and the centrality of health care decisions to virtually all modern conceptions of individual autonomy, it is no surprise that health care is a primary battleground in today’s conscience wars. Health care consumers are understandably concerned at the prospect of a provider’s moral qualms limiting the available range of treatment options, even if the consumer finds the treatment to be morally permissible. Providers are understandably concerned at the prospect of the state, acting on the consumer’s behalf, compelling them to violate their own moral convictions. Both consumer and provider seem to have conscience on their side. Little attention has been paid to the nature, much less the importance, of the relational dimension of these conscience claims.”
John Stehn
3 years 10 months ago
Dr. McHugh, with all due respect, the so-called separation of church and state is irrelevant here. The state cannot mandate evil. Regardless of your personal thoughts or feelings on this matter, the use of artificial contraception is in fact moral evil according to the natural law. One need not resort to Revelation to determine this. To speak of a right to these things is to speak of a right to evil…which is a contradiction. For the state to “look the other way”, as these items are illegally sold is one thing. But when a state passes laws mandating that they be provided by employers, that state has promulgated an unjust law. This law is not binding in conscience on the populous. Sadly, I have very little, if any, confidence that the full Court will uphold Justice Sotomayor's temporary stay.
Vince Killoran
3 years 10 months ago
"[W]hen a state passes laws mandating that they be provided by employers, that state has promulgated an unjust law. This law is not binding in conscience on the populous." The employer does not have to pay for contraception. The natural law argument has been soundly refuted by theologians and philosophers.
John Stehn
3 years 10 months ago
Vince...The money-laundering scheme that the Obama Administration contrived to avoid the appearance of forcing Catholic institutions to violate their consciences doesn't change the fact they it is still cooperating (albeit remotely) with evil. They should be able to opt out of this horror, particularly since artificial contraception is not "healthcare". Also, the natural law argument against artificial contraception has never been refuted. Dissident theologians and philosophers have tried their best to refute it, but to no avail. Nor will they ever succeed. That's because it is true...and that is why the Church rests its infallible teaching on it.
Vince Killoran
3 years 10 months ago
"that is why the Church rests its infallible teaching on it." Sorry John but infallibility has only been invoked twice and it wasn't about contraception. The "money-laundering scheme" of which you write was the Obama Administration going out of its way to accommodate the USCCB who are never satisfied because they view this as a last-ditch effort to be relevant with Catholics about birth control. A ham-handed effort that will not succeed.
John Stehn
3 years 10 months ago
Vince: Again, you are incorrect. You are referring to the exercise of the extraordinary magisterium of the Church. The Church's universal, constant teaching on the evil of contraception falls well within the requirements described in Lumen gentium 25, which speaks of the infallibility of the ordinary magisterium of the Church. This moral doctrine, which derives from the precepts of the natural moral law, is irreformable and infallible.
Tom Wilson
3 years 10 months ago
I don't understand why I should have to pay for someone's choice to engage in recreational sex.
Vince Killoran
3 years 10 months ago
I don't understand why I should have to pay for someone's choice to engage in drinking alcohol, smoking, driving a car, driving a car fast, eating fattening food, etc., etc.
Tom Wilson
3 years 10 months ago
I don't either. Self insure for risk-taking behavior or don't engage in it.
Paul Stolz
3 years 10 months ago
The state has no right to force people to violate their religious beliefs. There are real people behind a business or an organization. If it violates someones conscience to pay for birth control or an abortifacient then by what authority does the state say they have to do it anyway. No one is interfering with reproductive rights. Employees of religious employers are free to work somewhere else or payout of pocket for birth control, or an abortifacient.
Tim O'Leary
3 years 10 months ago
The nuns are being forced to sign a letter directing others to do what they believe is against their religion. Here is a video that highlights their work. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uO-I3o0WjqU. The Obama administration will lose this battle no matter what the legal outcome.
Henry Q
3 years 10 months ago
For those interested in more details, two posts are worth reading; The first is on the “Mirror of Justice” blog titled: “What does the form that the government insists the Little Sisters of the Poor must sign actually do?” The second is on Fr. Longenecker’s blog titled: “Henry VIII and the Little Sisters of the Poor” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2014/01/henry-viii-and-the-little-sisters-of-the-poor.html
Tim O'Leary
3 years 10 months ago
Henry, Thanks for this very revealing information. I am adding here the link to the Mirror of Justice blog to facilitate readers. http://www.mirrorofjustice.blogs.com/. I did not know that “every other pending case involving a church plan similar to the Little Sisters' has thus far resulted in a lower-court injunction (some preliminary, some permanent).” Specifically, Judge Rosenthal’s interpretation is very helpful: “…the self-certification form [signing the form] requires the organizations to do much more than simply protest or object. The purpose of the form is to enable the provision of the very contraceptive services to the organization’s employees that the organization finds abhorrent. The form designates the organization’s chosen TPA [third-party administrator] as the administrator for such benefits and requires the organization’s chosen issuer or TPA to pay for the religiously offensive contraceptive services. The purpose and effect of the form is to accomplish what the organization finds religiously forbidden and protests.”
Henry Q
3 years 10 months ago
The link for the Mirror of Justice site is: http://www.mirrorofjustice.blogs.com/ Scroll down for the January 5th post post titled "What does the form that the government insists the Little Sisters of the Poor must sign actually do?"
Michael Barberi
3 years 10 months ago
This issue, as I have in the past concluded, is a matter of the constitutionality of the contraceptive mandate as well as due-process. I find it perplexing and almost immoral for the Federal Government to force the Little Sisters of the Poor, and other similar religious organizations, to sign a form acknowledging, permitting, and indirectly condoning the access to contraceptives for their employees when this action goes against their religious beliefs and moral conscience. I wonder if the Little Sisters of the Poor are an exempt religious organization. If so, why do they have to sign a form? It is perplexing, in part, if some of their employees are not Catholic, and have no issue with contraception, thus they would not have access to free contraceptives as others have under the ACA. It is also perplexing how the Government can force the Little Sisters of the Poor to sign a form or if they do not, they will be financially penalized because they don't be in compliance with the Law. This is clearly an constitutional issue. The so-called "fix" really does not work where the employer or employee will not have to pay for these benefits. If the Government is going to require the the insurance companies or TPAs to provide such coverage with the promise that some exchange fees will be waived for them, what happens if the cost exceeds the fees? Where is due-process? In these situations, the Government probably cannot directly pay the insurance companies and TPAs for these benefits service because the provision of benefits between a plan sponsor and their employees is based on the plan document (a contract) which governs the benefits and the administration of such services. Of course, there is also the issue of self-insurance and whether the ACA governs self-insured plans. Frankly, I have not read the 2000 page ACA legislation to adequately understand what is in the law For that matter, nether does the Congress who voted for it.
Marie Rehbein
3 years 10 months ago
What is the difference between the insurance company providing the contraceptives and people using the pay they receive from working for the Sisters organization buy contraceptives themselves -- from the perspective of the organization -- morally speaking?
Tim O'Leary
3 years 10 months ago
All the difference in the world, morally speaking. The salary is in exchange for the good work being done. What the employee later decides to do with the money is their responsibility. For example, if an employee used money he earned to hire a hit man or recreational drugs or a gun for a crime, the moral responsibility would be his or hers, not the employer. But, I strongly doubt that those working so closely with the holy sisters would in any case not be close to them in their moral and religious understanding as well. It is highly unlikely that radical pro-abortion feminists would seek employment in a nursing home run by these nuns. It is even less likely that those employees would suddenly want the nuns to now pay for contraceptives. This whole issue of contraceptive and/or abortifacient payments has nothing to do with health insurance in any case. It is a pure ideological add-on to the idea of health insurance, and certainly not a serious financial need. Planned Parenthood or feminist organizations would gladly give out free contraceptives to whoever could not afford them, if only for eugenic reasons (as Margaret Sanger, their founder, advocated).
Marie Rehbein
3 years 10 months ago
Excuse me, Tim, but the insurance is also compensation for work being done. What the employee later decides to claim under his or her insurance is their responsibility. While it is likely that pro-abortion feminists would not seek employment with the nuns, it is entirely possible that someone with menstrual problems could do so and would want to use contraceptives as medications to treat such problems. I recall being in a similar situation and learning that my hormonal medication was not covered by my insurance, because it could also be used for contraception. I find that rather incredible given that a medication that is only used for sexual purposes is covered (Viagra), and this is often used by unmarried men and even young men not to correct a problem but to enhance their experiences.
Henry Q
3 years 10 months ago
I had to investigate this issue precisely because my wife had the medical condition you described and I discovered that she could take the pill for that reason and that the principle of double effect (I found this reference quickly: http://sites.saintmarys.edu/~incandel/doubleeffect.html) applied in her case. So yes, as long as the pill is NOT being used as a contraceptive, the Church teaches that it can be utilized. The question of Viagra is an interesting one, which I have not investigated. However, I personally don't think it should be covered ;)
Marie Rehbein
3 years 10 months ago
Well, the Church does not determine whether to pay for the medication or not, the insurance company does, and it doesn't use the same standard. The insurance company has a list of medications it covers, and if a medication does not make it onto the list because some people's moral objections trump other people's medical needs politically, the medication is not covered. It would be stranger to have to get a priest's approval than it is to have the nuns sign a form turning over the administration of contraceptive coverage to the insurer. However, it's strange to have employers involved in this at all, in my opinion.
Henry Q
3 years 10 months ago
Have you ever read “The Power of the Powerless” Marie? I strongly suggest that you do because, IMO, the problem is that your affirmation that “the insurance company does” is no longer true because those in power won’t allow an insurance company to choose which products they will or will not sell. Here’s a hypothetical situation/question that I believe goes to the heart of the issue: let’s say I wanted to start a pharmaceutical company whose mission is to faithfully adhere to pro-life principles because I believe that that’s a niche that’s waiting to be filled! Should I be able to do that or is it OK that those in power force me to offer products that I don’t want to offer, or authorize others to offer them so that I can say “well, I am not the one offering them”? Plus, as Michael points out below, very few, if any, read the 2000 page ACA legislation yet the bright bulbs in Congress voted for it - now that makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?
Marie Rehbein
3 years 10 months ago
I have not read "The Power of the Powerless". However, your reference to it indicates to me that you have misunderstood my statement that the insurance company decides. The point I was making was that even though you see moral exceptions being available to the user of contraceptives as concerns the fate of the soul, the way it works in this life is that the product is either covered by insurance or it is not. Whether the insurer decides this based on business concerns, mathematical computations, or some other criteria, such as government mandate, was not pertinent to my comment. However, it is the case that the government mandated that mammograms be covered by insurance, so there is nothing new in mandating other things that should be covered. I think you are confusing the heavily regulated insurance industry with the pharmaceutical industry. Furthermore, your example is very weak because no one company is able to produce all the possible pharmaceuticals. Therefore, the government could never mandate what a particular company produces. Lastly, if I have this right, you are being influenced by a "political essay written in October 1978 by the Czech dramatist, political dissident and later politician, Václav Havel" (wikipedia). I doubt that it is the profound and universal document you might be suggesting it is.
Henry Q
3 years 10 months ago
Ha Ha Ha – of course we are misunderstanding each other Marie, especially since you thought I was implying that the “Power of the Powerless” is “profound and universal document” – it has many great points but I don’t know if I would describe it using your words! I simply mentioned it to give you a context and/or background for my remark and another way to look at what might be happening. But, I do agree that I am probably mingling too many issues together and, as a result, have strayed too far from the point of the article – it happens to the best of us, after all.
Michael Barberi
3 years 10 months ago
The ACA mandate was initiated based on a NIH study which concluded that there was abundant evidence that birth control offered significant health benefits to women and reduce overall healthcare costs. This requirement that health benefit plans offers preventive services such as contraceptive services without a copy, coinsurance, deductible or premium was cost justified by the NIH. It was also considered a benefit to society. Some non-profits, religious organizations were offered an exemption. The Obama administration defined this exemption, the so-called fix even though it is controversial. Incidentally, most states require health plans to cover contraceptives but they also allow for some exemptions. The key principle that underpins most heath benefits is that a health plan can only cover medically necessary services and products. Voluntary cosmetic surgery, and the like, are not covered. The principle is that the insurer does not define what is covered or not. The employer's plan document does that. The insurer administers the plan in accordance with the plan document and medical necessary provisions, et al. In other words, it is the employer that agrees with the insurer's formulary, but the formulary is constructed by the insurer, as well as the network of providers. However, the employer can direct the insurer to cover more hospitals or physicians or more drugs…at a cost, of course. The problems with the ACA are many, as I mentioned a few in my previous blog comments. The other issue is this: if a religious organization who is exempt from offering certain preventative services or products because such services/products go against their religious teachings, then would not other religious organizations be allowed to deny coverage for other services that go against their religious teachings? For example, some so-called religious organizations don't believe in blood transfusions. As you can appreciate, this issue is highly complex.
Henry Q
3 years 10 months ago
As I recall, the problem began here: Under the rules issued by the Health and Human Services department, the Obama administration will only exempt from the controversial procedures organizations that meet the following standards: • Their primary purpose must be the inculcation of their religious beliefs -- which is not the primary function of Catholic schools, hospitals, or other charitable organizations. • They must primarily hire people of their own faith. So if they have more non-Catholics than Catholics on staff, they would not qualify. • Finally, the organizations must primarily serve people of their own faith, rather than the public-at-large. Yes, medical ethics are extremely complex and constantly evolving because the technology evolves, but what is happening is IMO more about the government intrusion and violation of the separation of Church and State that we adhere to in America. And I do see what happened with Henry VII being repeated again. And if people don’t think that that’s possible, the book I cited gives a clue on how it is happening now.
Michael Barberi
3 years 10 months ago
Henry, The NIH's study supported the contraceptive mandate, but the findings of the study was not political since the NIH must abide by rigorous professional standards. This issue has been under review and study for some time. The real issue is the constitutionality of the contraceptive mandate, pure and simple. All this complaining about the mandate might be interesting, but it is a moot point. The issue will be finally settled by the U.S. Supreme Court and if and when the ACA is repealed or changed.
Henry Q
3 years 10 months ago
Michael, As I am sure you, and everyone who comments here, is well aware, in our culture, “legal” is “equivalent to moral” for many people and it’s precisely because that is an absolutely false premise that the abortion debate is so contentious. So yes, the Supreme Court will decide on the constitutionality of the contraceptive mandate but I predict that it certainly won’t settle it just like Roe vs. Wade did not settle it.
Michael Barberi
3 years 10 months ago
Henry, The legality versus morality of abortion in our culture is not lost on me. Nor is it lost on most Catholics or Christians. There is always some truth in the argument that many people consider the legality of abortion as equivalent to its morality, but this does not mean that most faithful Catholics subscribe to this falsehood. Anyone who believe that on-demand abortion is morally right (save to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape and incest) is seriously misguided. I take issue with the often used exaggeration by the RCC that personal and social relativism is the cause of the non-reception of every Church teaching. Such proclamations lack proper context and do not adequately address deeper issues. I do agree that the U.S. Supreme Court will not settle the morality of the contraceptive mandate, only its legality (at least until a future decision reverses such decision).
Henry Q
3 years 10 months ago
Since I believe that the phrase “quot capita tot sensus” describes an actual human reality, I believe it is vital to call things by their proper name, and I surmise that you would agree. Since the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ teaches, in accordance with His will and desire, that “Abortion is the direct killing of an innocent human being” (see paragraphs 2270 to 2275 in the 2nd edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church), I agree with you that anyone who believes that abortion is morally right is seriously misguided. And yes, I agree with you that those that reject the teachings of Christ as proclaimed by His Church do so for a variety of reasons but sometimes those reasons do find their roots in personal and social relativism. After all, we do absorb the worldview of the culture we swim, in whether we are aware of it or not, and we often willing (but maybe not consciously) propagate its premises in order to avoid putting on the mind of Christ - to allude to St. Paul. And I am speaking from personal experience because I see this tendency in me! ; )
Michael Barberi
3 years 10 months ago
I think you missed my exact words and meaning. I nuance abortion (e.g., I do not believe that terminating a pregnancy which is threatening the life of the mother with certainty is immoral; every effort should be expended to save both, but if this is not possible, then to save one life is the right thing to do). We all live in a culture that influences our judgment and actions. However, we also have a God-given reason and faith that helps us resist the constant temptation of going along with what is popular. Nevertheless, one of the problems that confound legitimate discussion is the fact that there is far too much extremism on both sides of debates. There are theological experts that disagree with the morality of certain teachings for good reasons and there are experts that argue in support of certain teachings (e.g., on sexual ethics). The problem is that neither side wants to acknowledge the truth in the other's argument. It is like describing a glass partially filled with water. The Church says it is half empty, and declares its proclamation a moral absolute; others say it is half full but the Church will never admit it. It is time to recognize that some teachings need to be responsibly reformed for good reasons. Henry, it is time to end this discussion because it is getting off-point.
Tim O'Leary
3 years 10 months ago
Marie - you may still not see the difference between providing a salary for good work and being forced to cover morally objectionable services, but the government has already accepted that. They have said employers will not be forced to provide insurance plans that cover surgical abortions. Neither does the government presently force religious objectors to instruct their insurance company to pay for surgical abortions. This government is trying to force Catholics and others to pay for contraceptives and sterilizations. If Catholics lose this religious freedom case, then the government can later on add on surgical abortions, sex change operations, cloning, euthanasia, etc. They will have won the right to decide what is a Catholic religious issue and what is not.
Henry Q
3 years 10 months ago
For those interested, Carissa Mulder has just written a very interesting post titled: “Sex, Drugs, and Religious Liberty” which I believe is related to this post we are commenting on here at America Magazine. Carissa’s post can be found here: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2014/01/11728/?utm_source=Public+Discourse&utm_campaign=9f0b9b6eb9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_efeee0c775-9f0b9b6eb9-74691057
Marie Rehbein
3 years 10 months ago
Henry Q and Michael B. : I hope you are not confusing contraception with abortion.
Henry Q
3 years 10 months ago
In my experience, the terminology regarding life issues is as slippery as a fish you’ve just caught in the lake is when you try to hold it, and that’s why the words are sloppily defined in news articles and public discourse. Speaking for myself, I have done my best to make sure that my definitions coincide with reality they point to as well as the Teachings of Christ as transmitted to Catholics through the Church. Why are you asking? P.S. I hope you realize that some contraceptives are abortifacients or contain potentially abortifacient elements, depending on how one is defining it.
Marie Rehbein
3 years 10 months ago
I ask because I noticed your exchange below was about the morality vs. the legality of abortion, not contraception. I do know that some people confuse Plan B with RU-486. Plan B is believed to work by preventing ovulation and slowing sperm and is accepted by the Catholic Church as reasonable after rape with the added precaution that no pregnancy has established itself, even though medical professionals believe that an established pregnancy would not be affected by using Plan B. Medical professionals, in fact, believe that Plan B will not prevent a fertilized egg from implanting, let alone abort an established pregnancy. Contraceptive coverage under insurance plans would not include RU-486 or any other abortifacients. It would, however, probably include a drug called Ella, which is a form Plan B medication, that is only available by prescription, and which some non-scientists claim is abortifacient. (Similarly, the coverage does not extend to anise seed, bitter melon, goji berries, dill, and nutmeg, which can cause miscarriage and are available without warning to that effect.) The only contraception covered by insurance is the type that requires a doctor's prescription. Really, the Sisters should have no greater concern for the money that buys insurance than they do for the money that buys condoms over-the-counter.
Henry Q
3 years 10 months ago
I am going to use hyperbole to show you what I see when I ponder your comment because I think it misses the mark by a million miles. The Sisters are basically being duped and making a big deal out of nothing and should just drop the whole thing because we are only talking about “thing’s” that require a doctor’s prescription - and that, in and of itself, makes it inherently moral! Did I understand that correctly? And little things like their quaint belief that they are cooperating with evil should be disregarded because, “hey, intelligent people really really don’t believe in that anyway.” I can’t tell you why with precision, but the following dialogue from the film – A Man for All Seasons – comes to mind as I reflect on the premises behind your comment: “The Duke of Norfolk”: Oh confound all this. I'm not a scholar, I don't know whether the marriage was lawful or not but dammit, Thomas, look at these names! Why can't you do as I did and come with us, for fellowship! “Sir Thomas More”: And when we die, and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience, and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?
Henry Q
3 years 10 months ago
BTW, Marie – did you happen to read the “opinion piece” by Jamie Stiehm titled The Catholic Supreme Court’s War on Women. The link is here: http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/Jamie-Stiehm/2014/01/07/the-catholic-supreme-courts-war-on-women To paraphrase what the commenter, Matt Blumenfeld wrote, it reminds me of something “straight out of an 1850's Know Nothing pamphlet” or the “Anti-Catholic” Tomas Nast cartoons of the same period. And this is the mindset of the people I work with every day so I see up close!
Marie Rehbein
3 years 10 months ago
Actually, Henry, my point was that not objecting to the insurance covering contraception is no different than not objecting when the employee uses his or her pay to purchase the type of contraception that does not require a prescription. It would make sense if the Sisters were trying to prevent people from using contraception for the sake of their immortal souls, but that is not the case here. I think that the Sisters will not be held to eternal account for committing some kind of sin if they don't object.
Michael Barberi
3 years 10 months ago
Thanks for your comments Marie. As usual, the topic drifts but it is not completely irrelevant. As I suggested to Henry in my comment to him today, it is time to end the discussion because it is getting off-point.
Henry Q
3 years 10 months ago
I agree - thank you both for sparring. I will now “bow out” of the discussion.
Tim O'Leary
3 years 10 months ago
Henry Q linked below to an anti-Catholic screed by Jamie Stiehm in US News in reaction to the rather mild action of Justice Sotomayor. It shows just how much anti-Catholic bigotry is alive and well on the left side of our politics. I can’t imagine Jamie getting away with any similarly worded attack on any other group in our country. The fact it got published at all shows how tone deaf so-called mainstream journalists are to this form of bigotry. I bet the NYT and Wash Post and Huff. Post will not take any disciplinary action. She may even get a new show on MSNBC for this. Some of the phrases Jamie approvingly uses are: “seemingly innocent Little Sisters,” “meddlesome American Catholic Archbishops,” “pernicious Rome," “Vatican hegemony” and the “rock of Rome” that “refuses to budge on women’s reproductive rights,” (as if there were no religious or moral motivations at all). A couple of more quotes: “Catholics in high places of power have the most trouble, I've noticed, practicing the separation of church and state. We can no longer be silent about this.” Another quote: "The Supreme Court is now best understood as the Extreme Court. One big reason why is that six out of nine Justices are Catholic. Let's be forthright about that…More than WASPS, Methodists, Jews, Quakers or Baptists, Catholics often try to impose their beliefs on you, me, public discourse and institutions. “ (Stiehm forgets the legal campaigns against the free speech of religious people in public schools, pro-lifers, or those who oppose gay marriage, not to mention the IRS intimidation of Tea Party members). At least the vast majority of reader comments condemn the bigotry. One from a Rachel Dvorak: “As a Catholic Women I'm wondering why this writer hates Catholic Women. Or why she believes that, as women, our loyalty should always be with people who share our genitals rather than people who share our values and beliefs. Because, apparently, when your a woman, your genitalia should control your every action. And you should never be permitted to think differently than another prominent female. This is not only the most bigoted article I've read in the past month, it is also the most sexist.” http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/Jamie-Stiehm/2014/01/07/the-catholic-supreme-courts-war-on-women
Michael Barberi
3 years 10 months ago
It is this kind of anti-Catholic bigotry that is anathema to legitimate debate and disagreement. Extremism should be tempered in any debate, but when it is grounded in demeaning and evil rhetoric, it should never see the light of day in a respected publication. Unfortunately, the U.S. News and World Report is confusing free speech with hateful discourse. Much of what Jamie Stiehm writes could be reconstituted into a legitimate counter-argument. However, it is clear that Ms Stiehm is blinded by hate to such a degree that she cannot or will not adequately address another's argument merely because it is not hers. Far too often people like Ms. Stiehm elect to chastise personal and institutional character with evil and unsubstantiated negative assertions in the distorted belief that her argument will gain a virtuous following.

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