Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The 11th Circuit issues the first post-Hobby Lobby opinion

Well, actually it's an order (by Pryor, Martin & Jordan) in Eternal Word Television v. Alabama, issued just hours after Hobby Lobby.  Although the panel "express[ed] no views on the ultimate merits of EWTN's appeal in this case," Judge Pryor issued a lengthy concurrence, in which he has an in depth discussion of what accommodation means after Hobby Lobby and why he thinks EWT will win on the merits. 

The AP covers it here:

The network is among dozens of church-based organizations across the country that have sued over the contraception requirement in the health care law. The broadcaster argues contraception, drugs that induce abortion and voluntary sterilization are not part of health care and, therefore, the government shouldn't force the network to provide them as part of its employer-sponsored health plan.
Alito wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court decision is limited to contraceptives. “Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance-coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employer's religious beliefs,” he said.
He suggested that the government could pay for pregnancy prevention or could provide the same kind of accommodation available to religious-oriented, not-for-profit corporations.
When those groups say providing the coverage violates their religious beliefs, their insurer or a third-party administrator pays for the birth control. The employer doesn't have to arrange for the coverage or pay for it, and the government reimburses insurers through credits against fees owed under other provisions of the health care law.
That accommodation is the subject of separate legal challenges, and the court said Monday that profit-seeking companies could not assert religious claims in such a situation.
The network said it was pleased by the Supreme Court decision.
“The Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case was a great affirmation of the constitutional right to freedom of religious expression,” network chairman and CEO Michael P. Warsaw said in an emailed statement. “While the Hobby Lobby decision did not directly resolve EWTN's case, this afternoon's injunction from the appellate court allows us to press forward without facing the government's crushing fines.”
The network is relieved and encouraged by Monday's court actions and looks forward to making its case before the 11th Circuit, Warsaw said.
“The fact that the Supreme Court believes that the government has an obligation to use the least restrictive means of accomplishing its goals is very helpful to the EWTN case,” he said. “EWTN has raised similar arguments with regard to the government's 'accommodation' scheme for faith-based organizations.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In that order, Pryor calls one of Posner's opinions "Rubbish." I think Pryor wants in on the Scalia-Garner--Posner feud.