Government Thugs Reined by Supreme Court

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For The Washington Post, George Will writes: Two 5 to 4 decisions this week, on the final decision day of the Supreme Court’s term, dealt with issues that illustrate the legal consequences of political tactics by today’s progressives. One case demonstrated how progressivism’s achievement, the regulatory state, manufactures social strife and can do so in ways politically useful to progressives. The other case arose from government coercion used to conscript unwilling citizens into funding the progressives’ party.

“Twice this week the court played its indispensable role as constable, policing portions of this forest where progressivism has produced government guilty of gratuitous bullying.”

Under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), any government action that substantially burdens religious practices will be subject to strict judicial scrutiny to determine if it, rather than some less intrusive measure, is necessary to achieve a compelling government interest. The Affordable Care Act, as supplemented by regulations, requires for-profit employers to provide health-care coverage that includes all 20 Food and Drug Administration-approved birth control methods.

“…more and more decisions are made by unelected and unaccountable executive-branch ‘experts’  exercising vast discretion.”

These include four that prevent a fertilized egg from being implanted in the uterus. Some persons consider this tantamount to abortion and oppose these abortifacients for religious reasons. Why did Congress, having enacted RFRA, write this clearly incompatible birth control mandate? Congress didn’t.

In the ACA, Congress simply required health plans to provide “preventive care” for women. An executive branch agency decided this meant the full menu of 20 technologies. So, during oral argument in March, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy asked: “What kind of constitutional structure do we have if the Congress can give an agency the power to grant or not grant a religious exemption based on what the agency determined?”

The answer is: The constitutional structure we have is the kind progressives prefer, wherein more and more decisions are made by unelected and unaccountable executive-branch “experts” exercising vast discretion. In this instance, the experts were, to say no more, willing to provoke a predictable controversy that would be convenient for the Democratic Party’s “war on women” trope. Today, this war consists of subsidizing only 16 of 20 birth control methods. The court has held that some “closely held” businesses — often family-owned and adhering to religious practices — have a right under RFRA to wage this war(read more)

The Washington Post



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