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Have New York Times editors read the First Amendment?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:35 am - February 15, 2012.
Filed under: Constitutional Issues,Freedom,Media Bias

To find the text of the First Amendment, we simple go to google, type “First Amendment Text” without quotations marks into the little box and click “google search.”  Clicking on the first link, we get the Wikipedia entry, then clicking on the word, “text“, we get

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Emphasis added.  Please note that the authors of this amendment made clear to include the word, “exercise,” and not “worship.”  Which brings us to the editors of the New York Times.  Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto linked this editorial in the old gray lady on the president’s contraception compromise:

Nonetheless, it was dismaying to see the president lend any credence to the misbegotten notion that providing access to contraceptives violated the freedom of any religious institution. Churches are given complete freedom by the Constitution to preach that birth control is immoral, but they have not been given the right to laws that would deprive their followers or employees of the right to disagree with that teaching.

Note the word missing from this paragraph — and indeed from the entire editorial.  Yup, that’s right, it’s “exercise.”  As law professor Richard A. Epstein explains, “A direct legislative order to engage in conduct antithetical to their religious convictions would be in flat violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of the ‘free exercise of religion,’ which is far broader and more comprehensive than the religious right to ‘worship,’ to which the president grudgingly acquiesces.”  (Epstein via Instapundit.)

In not paying for their contraception, the churches are freely exercising* their religion — which opposes contraception.  I happen to think that’s a a silly belief, but then they might think it’s silly not to eat pork or shellfish.  The Times editors simply ignore the “free exercise” clause in their editorial.

Not just that.  Even if Catholic organizations don’t offer contraception, they’re not depriving their followers the right to disagree with their teaching, as the Times editors suggest.  (Do they really believe that if their employer doesn’t offer employees a benefit, they can’t get it on their own?)

Once again, this is a freedom issue.  Catholics who run private hospitals have the right to freely exercise the tenets of their faith.  And that means not paying for contraception.  They, however, are not free to deprive their employees of the right to disagree with that teaching.

And not including contraception in their health care plans in no way deprives them of that right.  The editors of the Times simply did not even consider First Amendment right of the owners of the various Catholic hospitals and charities to exercise their faith.  Wonder if they would justify a law mandating that an Orthodox Jewish home for the aged serve pork and shellfish.

*(According to dictionary.com, exercise means “to put (faculties, rights, etc.) into action, practice, or use“.)

FROM THE COMMENTS:  David D  observes, “Any government that has the authority to say “You must cover contraceptives” also has the ability to say ‘You must NOT cover contraceptives*.”  Do wish editorialists appreciated that their ideological allies won’t alway hold political power.

*Or, more likely, “medical insurance plans provided by an employer that cover contraceptives must be taxed as direct income by the employee” or something like that.

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21 Comments

  1. I’ve generally avoided this issue so far because I’ve had serious trouble giving half a crap about it, but the impression I’ve got from everything I’ve read on this issue is that the Catholic organizations are not going to have to pay for contraception, that’s the whole point of the compromise. The cost is shifted to the health insurers and the employees get the contraceptives as a side benefit directly from the insurers. Seems like a whole load of effort to get out of a triviality to me, but it does get around religious organizations having to pay for stuff they disagree with.

    Now I’m sure someone will come in here to loudly try and correct me, and maybe that will spur me to on actually figure out what the hell this controversy is all over.

    Comment by Serenity — February 15, 2012 @ 3:35 am - February 15, 2012

  2. “Catholics who run private hospitals have the right to freely exercise the tenets of their faith. And that means not paying for contraception.”
    So all that is needed to violate any federal law on insurance or benefits offered or employment is a religious belief? Which ones? So, a Muslim running a hospital could choose not to hire “non-believers”? A Jew could choose not to provide benefits for any Jew in a mixed-religion marriage? A Baptist could choose not to allow any of its employees to be in a mixed-race marriage?
    According to this post, “the free exercise of religion” is paramount here. I ask you – what limits are there on that? When a religious organizations makes the choice to go into business, what doesn’t it have to follow the same laws as every other business? Since when does a religion let you not be on a level playing field with other businesses who have to watch the bottom line?

    Comment by hmm_contrib — February 15, 2012 @ 5:53 am - February 15, 2012

  3. Progressives see the Constitution as a speed-bump on the road to socialist utopia.

    Catholic organizations are not going to have to pay for contraception, that’s the whole point of the compromise. The cost is shifted to the health insurers

    And who pays the insurers for the insurance the Government requires them to buy, [INSERT UNCIVIL EPITHET ALLUDING TO COMMENTER’S LOW-GRADE IQ (Think Red Foreman on ‘That 70′s Show]?

    This is like the Government forcing the NAACP to pay for the cost of Klan memberships for its employees. It’s only a “triviality” to people who support facilitating recreational sex through the provision of contraceptives. These people lack morality, and can’t begin to comprehend why forcing religious organizations to provide contraceptives, even indirectly through Obama’s cutesy-poo “compromise” is wrong.

    Heck, if the Government wants to force insurance companies to pay for contraceptives, why can’t they make them pay for flowers and dinner as well?

    I apologize for the uncivility, but the gob-smacking stupidity of some people… sheesh.

    Comment by V the K — February 15, 2012 @ 6:34 am - February 15, 2012

  4. @Serenity,

    I understand you’re confusion, being from over on your side of the pond, having an official state church and all. But Freedom of Religion means not being forced to ceed your beliefs to others.

    “But what about the Aztecs?” I hear people whine. Sacrificing another infringes on their freedoms. When your religion takes from another, that crosses into their freedoms and is prohibited.

    It’s akin to tithing. Glenn Beck, Ken Jennings et all give to their churches, their churches don’t take from them.

    Comment by The Livewire — February 15, 2012 @ 7:57 am - February 15, 2012

  5. Lets start with “half a crap.”

    Who cuts off evacuation in mid course and saves the rest for later?

    Oh, it was an idiom. It focused on crap because religion and what intrudes upon it is all excrement if you are a daughter of ba’al. Therefore, to only give it half of the dose of excrement shows how very little you value the stupid concept about religion from the outset. It is how one says “I could not care less” when one is tied into hedonism and the dark, damp mysteries of life in the dank basement under the enlightened world of morality.

    Let them eat cake. If the insurance company has to pay for the issue, it only means that the Catholic Church is freed from direct cost. Nothing to see here. Fool the Catholics and move on.

    Apparently, half a crap actually refers to the mental output of Serenity. She came, she half crapped and she saved some for other things that deserve the attention of her ennui and disdain. Pomposity poop is a rating system that uses turds instead of stars.

    Comment by Heliotrope — February 15, 2012 @ 8:34 am - February 15, 2012

  6. Serenity, but the Catholic organizations are paying for it. The insurance companies they have chosen would be providing the contraception — with revenues they acquire from their various clients, including the Catholic organizations.

    Does Obama even understand how private enterprises make money? It’s as if he assumes they all have a stack of cash lying around.

    Well, hmmmm, the “free exercise” clause is in the Constitution, so perhaps indeed it is paramount.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — February 15, 2012 @ 10:46 am - February 15, 2012

  7. So all that is needed to violate any federal law on insurance or benefits offered or employment is a religious belief?

    Comment by hmm_contrib — February 15, 2012 @ 5:53 am – February 15, 2012

    Notice the interesting conflation here. Now employment discrimination consists not only of discriminating against people in terms of hiring and firing; it also means that, if you don’t pay for whatever benefits they demand, you are discriminating.

    So LGBT organizations should be required to pay for reparative therapy for their employees — and if they object for any reason, they are discriminating and should be forced to pay by law.

    The problem that we’re dealing with here is that liberals don’t ever expect to have to actually follow the laws they demand, such as Obama Party organization ACORN demanding that it be exempted from the minimum wage laws it was pushing.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — February 15, 2012 @ 11:40 am - February 15, 2012

  8. Nice analogy, NDT XXX, was outlining a post on what gays should support GOP on this issue because, of all groups, we shouldn’t want the state mandating what private groups do. And that “reparative” theory notion would fit perfectly into my post as currently planned.

    Thanks!

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — February 15, 2012 @ 11:45 am - February 15, 2012

  9. ND30: since you didn’t answer my question, may I assume you agree? That all that is required to not follow federal law is a religious belief?
    Reparative therapy, btw, since it is deemed harmful by the professionals (those darn elitists what with their PhD’s and stuff), wouldn’t be required under any federal law, unless Santorum is elected?
    But, to seriously outline the case which you won’t address: if reparative therapy was offered to some employees but not to all, then denial of the benefits would be discriminatory. But that’s not the case here: in this case, the government is listing what benefits must be offered by a licensed health plan; the Catholics don’t want to follow the law. So, under this theory, any group may choose not to follow any federal law citing a religious belief, including those with religious beliefs against mixed-marriages?
    Care to answer the question?

    Comment by hmm_contrib — February 15, 2012 @ 1:27 pm - February 15, 2012

  10. ND30: since you didn’t answer my question, may I assume you agree? That all that is required to not follow federal law is a religious belief?

    Ah, so you’ve changed your question.

    So all that is needed to violate any federal law on insurance or benefits offered or employment is a religious belief?

    Comment by hmm_contrib — February 15, 2012 @ 5:53 am – February 15, 2012

    Not surprising. As I pointed out, your argument that an employer not paying for any benefit that an employee demanded constituted “discrimination” would have required LGBT groups to pay for reparative therapy if an employee or potential employee demanded it.

    So, rather than dealing with your obvious logic flaw, you spun — and of course tried to introduce racism into the mix.

    But that’s not the case here: in this case, the government is listing what benefits must be offered by a licensed health plan; the Catholics don’t want to follow the law. So, under this theory, any group may choose not to follow any federal law citing a religious belief, including those with religious beliefs against mixed-marriages?

    Actually, the Obama Party, Barack Obama, and Obama Party Congressional leadership have already stated that groups with “correct” religious beliefs do not have to follow Federal law when it comes to health insurance and coverage, including Muslim groups such as the Black Muslims that preach against interracial marriages.

    So what you are stating is that religious beliefs which support Obama Party constituent groups may ignore Federal law, but Catholics must be punished. Again, this is not surprising; it’s the same theory that saw Obamacare waivers going overwhelmingly to Obama donors.

    Meanwhile, as far as giving Federal exemptions and taxpayer dollars to religious groups that are against mixed marriages and racist, you and your Barack Obama Party have already done that.

    Now isn’t it amazing how that works? You rant and scream about how wrong it is to exempt people from Federal law based on religious belief and how it could be used by racist groups at the same time you are exempting people from Federal law based on religious belief and handing out exemptions and taxpayer support to racist religious groups.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — February 15, 2012 @ 2:16 pm - February 15, 2012

  11. hmm_contrib,

    What part of the constitution says that Government has the authority to tell a business what services to provide? If you go to work for a Muslim owned company, you shouldn’t be surprised if his cafeteria doesn’t serve pork, or fish on fridays. You want bacon? Pack your own. At the same time, the employer may have breaks in the day to allow his workers to pray to Mecca. He can’t make you pray. You could go get coffee. That’s freedom.

    Oh and I love this…

    Reparative therapy, btw, since it is deemed harmful by the professionals (those darn elitists what with their PhD’s and stuff), wouldn’t be required under any federal law, unless Santorum is elected?

    Not only a non-sequetor, but you’re saying the federal government has the ability to outlaw ‘risky behaviour’?

    I’m also amused you say ‘those darn elitists with their PHDs.’ So you know the education level of everyone here, and can comment on it?

    Right now companies choose to offer incentives to their employers to not smoke and to lose weight. Do you feel the government should mandate such things?

    Comment by The Livewire — February 15, 2012 @ 2:18 pm - February 15, 2012

  12. So, a Muslim running a hospital could choose not to hire “non-believers”?

    Yes. (You did not say a Muslim hospital and that must be stipulated. It can not be a generic hospital headed by a Muslim.) The Muslim hospital could accept only Muslim patients, serve only halal diet food and employ only Muslim staff. Do you have a problem with that? Do you have problems with women’s health clinics?

    A Jew could choose not to provide benefits for any Jew in a mixed-religion marriage?

    I’m not clear on this. There is a very confusing difference between “a Jew” and a member of a Jewish sect. Do some Jewish sects shun mixed-religion marriages? Your question implies a “yes” answer. In which case, an administrator of benefits affecting that sect could tailor the benefits to the religious principles of the sect and “shun” the mixed-marriage person if the situation violates the religious principles of the sect.

    A Baptist could choose not to allow any of its employees to be in a mixed-race marriage?

    To my knowledge, Baptists do not have a religious principle which damns mixed-race marriage. It should be easy to learn, however, as there are a great many Baptist hospitals. Do they stop patients who are in a mixed-race marriage at the door?

    Comment by Heliotrope — February 15, 2012 @ 2:38 pm - February 15, 2012

  13. The New York Times editors are Communists. It’s that simple. They don’t care about the Constitution; they want to destroy it.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — February 15, 2012 @ 3:27 pm - February 15, 2012

  14. Not only a non-sequetor, but you’re saying the federal government has the ability to outlaw ‘risky behaviour’?

    Comment by The Livewire — February 15, 2012 @ 2:18 pm – February 15, 2012

    There’s an easy way to shut liberals up on that one, Livewire.

    Especially when you point out how they’ve prosecuted and financially ruined businesses who accidentally put something into the environment that has the potential to increase the cancer rate by .001%, but actively promote people like Kevin Jennings who encourage and support children to have bareback sex with strangers in bus station restrooms.

    Once you realize that liberals have no intention of ever living under or being required to follow the same rules that they impose on everyone else, their addiction to regulation becomes obvious. They see it as an ability to cripple their opponents.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — February 15, 2012 @ 3:33 pm - February 15, 2012

  15. Awwwwm NDT, I was hoping he’d answer and fall into that trap.

    Comment by The Livewire — February 15, 2012 @ 3:45 pm - February 15, 2012

  16. NYT said:

    Nonetheless, it was dismaying to see the president lend any credence to the misbegotten notion that *providing access to* contraceptives violated the freedom of any religious institution.

    Emphasis added. The problem is, Obama isn’t “providing access to” contraceptives. Rather, he is *mandating that employers pay for* contraceptives.

    There is a huge difference.

    Catholic organizations are not going to have to pay for contraception, that’s the whole point of the compromise. The cost is shifted to the health insurers

    Pomposity, how stupid do you think we are? Because, to truly believe that, you would have to be stupid yourself. Companies don’t pay for mandates. Consumers do. The cost is passed along, in the cost of the policies. Thus, under Obama’s so-called “compromise”, CATHOLIC ORGANIZATIONS ARE STILL GOING TO HAVE TO PAY FOR CONTRACEPTION.

    This is the leftist approach to “compromise”. By “compromise”, they mean that they win – with perhaps a threadbare of Pretend in a deliberate effort to confuse the issues through deception.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — February 15, 2012 @ 11:10 pm - February 15, 2012

  17. The problem is, ILC, that both Pomposity and Barack Obama believe that, if they don’t have to pay for something, there is no cost for providing it.

    When you are dealing with economic imbeciles of that level, you can understand why Barack Obama thought he could just magically wipe away the cost of something by saying that you don’t have to pay for it.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — February 16, 2012 @ 1:42 am - February 16, 2012

  18. NDT: Someone quoted Grey’s Law the other day… it is so insightful, that now I am going to adopt it:

    Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — February 16, 2012 @ 2:01 am - February 16, 2012

  19. Any government that has the authority to say “You must cover contraceptives” also has the ability to say “You must NOT cover contraceptives”*.

    It wouldn’t be difficult to assemble a panel of MD, PhD’s, and Community Organizers who could solemnly declare that sex is risky to your physical and emotional health, because, after all, having sex can often hurt your physical and emotional health. Contraceptives promote sex and are therefore bad medicine: No Coverage For You.

    Does anyone really want a President who thinks he has a say in your choices regarding procreation?

    *Or, more likely, “medical insurance plans provided by an employer that cover contraceptives must be taxed as direct income by the employee” or something like that.

    Comment by David D — February 16, 2012 @ 9:06 pm - February 16, 2012

  20. Bingo David D,

    That’s what the libs fail to understand.

    Comment by The Livewire — February 17, 2012 @ 7:59 am - February 17, 2012

  21. So LGBT organizations should be required to pay for reparative therapy for their employees — and if they object for any reason, they are discriminating and should be forced to pay by law.

    Hey, this contraceptive mandate requires gay men to pay for the sexual conduct of straight women.

    Now, one might argue that gay men are just as free to use contraception as straight women are free? But then are they not just as free to marry someone of the opposite sex as straight women are free?

    Comment by Michael Ejercito — February 17, 2012 @ 2:32 pm - February 17, 2012

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