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View Diary: You don't own me (267 comments)

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  •  Yes, the problem is that a personal issue (11+ / 0-)

    such as health care is funneled through an employer.

    An employer DOES have the right to place restrictions on the employee's rights at work.  The employer can prevent an employee from putting up a cross at work for example, or political signs, or whatever. A Jewish employer does not need to allow Christian employees to put up religious symbols of Christmas at work.  On the other hand, an employer cannot direct what the employee does on his own time as long as it does not spill over to the job.

    The problem is that we have structured a society where providing health insurance is part of the job.  Because of that, we have an inevitable conflict between the right of the employer not to have to violate his/her religious beliefs with respect to what happens with respect to his/her business,  and the right of the employee to his/her own life on his/her own private time.  If the employer was not required to provide health insurance as part of his business, this would not be an issue at all.

    The solution is to divorce health insurance from the job.  That way, it would be entirely and solely the employee's business, and the employer would have no role in it.  Unfortunately, rather than move to divorce health insurance from employment, the ACA doubled down on that connection.  

    •  On the other hand (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TexasTom, adrianrf

      health insurance would be a mandatory benefit regardless of the employers faith. If the benefit is mandatory, it is no different than paying out cash (which all employers do). The reason we require universal health care is to make sure that everyone is putting some money into health care (no different than retirement through social security).

      Think of it this way, a $2000 paycheck from a Catholic employer has the same utility as a $2000 paycheck from a Jewish employer. Shouldn't the health care benefit have the same utility?

      •  The problem with your analysis is that (5+ / 0-)

        it is the employer, not the employee, that contracts with the health insurance company.  (At least, that is how it works in my business.)  So, it is the employer, not the employee, that is contracting for the scope of services covered and not covered. Employers spend a significant amount of time negotiating with, and choosing, the insurer for the company and the scope and terms of coverage.  The issue from the employer side is that this forces them to negotiate for, and directly pay for, something that violates their religious beliefs.  On the other hand, if the employer's religious beliefs are protected under the First Amendment, the employee doesn't get the employer-provided insurance coverage for the employee's private health choices.    

        If employers simply had to provide a financial CREDIT (deductible to the empolyer as a benefit and not considered income to the employee) to the employee for the EMPLOYEE to go out and find the insurance that best met the EMPLOYEE'S needs, I would agree with you.  

        •  if the employer is a single person, or homogenous (1+ / 0-)
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          Group of people, they might have the same religious point of view.

          But a corporation? An entity the size of a hospital? You tell me that all the people running a catholic hospital are catholic? I kinda doubt that. It's a big business, and my bet is they contract for a lot of services that don't strictly accord with catholic doctrine.

          •  I see a significant difference between (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            erush1345, VClib

            a publicly-traded corporation, which is owned by thousands of shareholders, and an organization owned by a religious institution.  The question is not "who runs" a Catholic Charity, for example.  The question is who owns the business.  The one who owns the business is the one with the right to say what goes on in that business.  If I own a small business, I get to say, "No Christian symbols at my business" regardless of whether I hire Christians to run it or whether I contract with Christians for services.  

            The owner gets to set the goals for the business, the parameters for the business, everything about the business.  The owner gets the final word.  If the owner chooses to do something, that's fine.  The question is whether, and when, the owner can be forced to do something that violates his religion.  

        •  Employers also spend... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dirtandiron, schnecke21, acnetj

          ..."a significant amount of time negotiating with, and choosing..." new employees.  Sorting resumes, conducting (multiple) interviews, performing the analysis to determine what an offer will look like, and who it will go to -- all of these tasks take a lot of work and time.

          So, on that basis, what happens when an employer argues that hiring someone of a specific faith, sexual orientation, or ethnicity violates their religious beliefs?  Afer all, if you sincerely believe that homosexuality is an abomination that is destroying our nation, or that Buddhism is sent by Satan, then having to work with and pay money to someone who is gay or a Buddhist could be interpreted as a violation of an employers' rights just as having to pay for insurance benefits that they object to is a violation.  Or how about forcing an employer to keep a position open while a single parent goes on maternity leave?

          Consequently, on balance I'm strongly inclined to reject religious liberties argument as it applies to health insurance and religious freedom.  Because once we buy into it, all sorts of other civil rights laws and employee protections will start unwinding, too.

          Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

          by TexasTom on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 07:57:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, some employers can discriminate on (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            erush1345, VClib

            those bases.

            Here's the shorthand version.  The Constitution only prevents government from discriminating against people, but does not prevent private employers from discriminating.  The Civil Rights laws are what apply to private employers.  And the Constitution says that religious employers CAN discriminate in hiring when they are hiring for a position that is, in the law, called a "ministerial" position.  That's not just a minister in a church.  When a religious employer hires a position that is, at least in some part, a religious position and serves at least a partly religious purpose.  See the unanimous SCOTUS decision here.  I point this out because it is not as simple as saying, "employers can't discriminate based on their own so-called religious beliefs."  The First Amendment's Free Exercise clause says that, in some instances, they absolutely can.   A Catholic school, for example, can probably fire a single female teacher who gets pregnant outside of marriage.  In Catholic schools, teachers are charged with, at least in significant part, imparting religious values in the children, so teachers who openly flout Catholic teachings can be fired for doing so.  

            In some instances, under certain circumstances, the Constitutional Free Exercise rights of the religious based employer will trump the rights of the employee under the Civil Rights laws -- as the SCOTUS held in a unanimous decision just last month.  

            That's not to say what would happen if this situation came to court.  It's just to show that, yes, religious employers do have Constitutional First Amendment rights in some instances.  

            •  Those exemptions aren't really relevant... (0+ / 0-)

     the birth control debate, since the policy exempted the actual church from the birth control coverage mandate.  That's a reasonable accomodation of religious freedom, because if you're working in a church it's not unreasonable for the church to expect you to share their doctrine and beliefs.

              Applying your comments to the current debate, the suggestion here is that a Catholic church-owned hospital could expect the chaplains in that hospital to conform to church policies, but wouldn't have the same ability when it comes to nonsecular employees.  

              Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

              by TexasTom on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 11:53:09 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, they are relevant. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                The original policy did not exempt institutions like schools and Catholic Charities.  And those institutions -- even hospitals -- can clearly have employees that are in "ministerial positions" as the SCOTUS defines it. So, those institutions have a constitutional right to be discriminatory with at least some of those employees, like pretty much ALL  the teachers in a Catholic school -- yet the original policy required them to pay for something that was against their religious beliefs for those religious employees.  

                Read that case I linked to.  The "ministerial exception" goes far, far beyond priests or ministers.  The employee in that case was a teacher who did a lot of secular stuff, but who agreed when she was hired that there was a religious component to her job.  That can apply to a whole lot of people in an institution like a religious school or a religious charity, both of which were not exempted under the original policy.  And even Catholic hospitals have employees other than chaplins who have a religious component to their job (although not as many) and those employees could well fit under that unanimous SCOTUS decision.  

      •  Maybe employers could refuse to pay (0+ / 0-)

        their employees if they gave money to the Democratic Party, or went to an R-rated movie, or bought a costume for a gay pride parade. After all, it's their (the employers) money.

        "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

        by Lily O Lady on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 07:30:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, it's not. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          erush1345, VClib

          When the employer pays the employee money for work, that becomes the employee's money.  If the employer paid the employee and the employee went out and chose his/her own insurance plan, there would not be an issue.  That's the way it ought to be -- the employee makes enough to buy his/her own insurance on his/her own terms, and based on his/her own choices.   The problem is that the system requires the employer to go out and negotiate with an insurance company for the employer to buy something that violates the employer's religion.  

          •  Sorry. I was being sarcastic. I (0+ / 0-)

            should have tagged it as snark.

            "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

            by Lily O Lady on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 10:13:58 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

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