It's a Tragedy That Joseph Heller Didn't Live Long Enough to Cover This Supreme Court

It was a good day for Opus Dei, and a really bad day for women in general.

associate justice samuel alito participates in the swearing in ceremony for defense secreaty mark esper in the oval office at the white house in washington, dc, on july 23, 2019   the senate tuesday voted overwhelmingly 90 to 8 to confirm president donald trump's pick for secretary of defense, mark esper, giving the pentagon its first permanent chief since james mattis stepped down in january photo by nicholas kamm  afp        photo credit should read nicholas kammafp via getty images
NICHOLAS KAMMGetty Images

Any day at the Supreme Court in which the only two opinions handed down are written by Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas is bound to be laden with trouble and woe. On Wednesday, however, it appears that the two of them—with the assistance of Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer, god help us—decided to declare Humanae Vitae Day from the bench. It was a good day for Opus Dei, and a really bad day for women in general. Both were decided by fat 7-2 majorities. Religion collided with real-world concerns, and real-world concerns got run over by the whole parade.

In the first case, Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, the plaintiffs were two women—and yes, we will see something of a theme here going forward—whose contracts to teach at a Catholic school had been terminated. One of the women had been diagnosed with breast cancer and has since died. The other argued that she had been discriminated against because of her age. Both of them sued under anti-discrimination statutes. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court threw out their cases because they had performed their designated duties too well and, therefore, according to the Gospel According to Alito, this deprived them of their protection against discrimination. That Joseph Heller didn't live long enough to write about all of this is a true tragedy.

In 2012, a unanimous Court ruled that churches and other religious groups were free to hire and fire employees who did religious work without the government interfering with those decisions. In his opinion on Wednesday, Alito expanded the definition of this "ministerial exception" halfway to Pluto. Anybody has a "ministerial function" if the discriminating employer says they do. Religious entities may now fire people, in the words of Justice Sonia Sotomayor's withering dissent, "widely and with impunity for reasons wholly divorced from religious beliefs." Could a Methodist Sunday school fire its only Black teacher because the white teachers felt uncomfortable with her during this time of racial unrest? Full speed ahead, says Mr. Justice Alito. The Civil Rights Act cannot stand in your way.

But it is instructive to consider why a church’s independence on matters “of faith and doctrine” requires the authority to select, supervise, and if necessary, remove a minister without interference by secular authorities. Without that power, a wayward minister’s preaching, teaching, and counseling could contradict the church’s tenets and lead the congregation away from the faith. The ministerial exception was recognized to preserve a church’s independent authority in such matters.

Anyone who remembers how Christian "seg academies" arose in response to Brown v. Board of Education can be forgiven if they start feeling a crow walking across their gravesites.

washington, dc   september 13 supreme court justice clarence thomas makes remarks at the official investiture ceremony for judge neomi rao, us court of appeals, in washington, dcphoto by bill o'learythe washington post via getty images
Justice Thomas got in on the act as well.
The Washington PostGetty Images

The chanting from the choir loft got even louder later in the morning, when the Court handed down its decision in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania. Justice Thomas picked up the ball from the Court's Hobby Lobby decision and ran it to glory, just as Alito did with the "ministerial exception." (These guys have planned this out well.) Again by 7-2—Have a nice vacation, Elena and Steve!—the Court upheld an administration rule that allowed employers with "religious or moral objections" to exempt themselves from the Affordable Care Act's mandate that employer-based health plans cover contraceptive services.

Thomas correctly pointed out that the attacks on women's medicine began almost immediately after the ACA passed. Nuisances gotta nuisance, after all. When the current case was first percolating up through the Courts, produced a handy-dandy list of companies whose religious convictions would be terribly wounded if their custodians were allowed to get their medicines paid for. These included a number of banks, several car dealerships, a bunch of construction firms, IT companies, and a saw mill. Well, if you glorify His Name by selling used Miatas, Mr. Justice Thomas has your back.

Moreover, our decisions all but instructed the Departments to consider RFRA going forward. For instance, though we held that the mandate violated RFRA in Hobby Lobby, we left it to the Federal Government to develop and implement a solution. At the same time, we made it abundantly clear that, under RFRA, the Departments must accept the sincerely held complicity-based objections of religious entities. That is, they could not “tell the plaintiffs that their beliefs are flawed” because, in the Departments’ view, “the connection between what the objecting parties must do . . . and the end that they find to be morally wrong . . . is simply too attenuated.”

Thomas's legal fig leaf for this is that the ACA did not specifically say it mandated "The Pill" as "additional preventive care" for women as mandated by the ACA, although contraceptives clearly are. And the substantial burden placed on the nuns consisted of filling out a form by which they would self-certify as a religious organization and thus be granted an exemption anyway. Their argument was that merely participating in the ACA's program violated their religious liberty, because they would be associating with other entities that would offer contraceptive services. Thomas bought this nonsense, and now it appears that anywhere from 70,000 to 126,000 women will be deprived of these services because some people consider a government form to be a Near Occasion of Sin. These decisions are the only begotten children of Hobby Lobby. im电竞官网-I would prefer not to meet the grandkids.

Update (1:25 p.m.): As a tasty coda to the first of today's two Supreme Court/Council of Trent decisions, Fr. James Martin, SJ, pointed out on the Electric Twitter Machine that the deceased plaintiff in the first case, Kirsten Biel—who claimed she was fired because she told the school she had breast cancer—was fired by a certain Sr. Mary Margaret Kreuper. It was Kreuper, Fr. Martin reminds us, who subsequently went on to an extensive career in another field. From :

Two longtime nuns at St. James Catholic School in Torrance allegedly embezzled as much as $500,000 in tuition, fees and donations, perhaps spending some of the money on trips and gambling at casinos while telling parents the school was operating on a shoestring budget, officials and parents said. The figure represents only what auditors have been able to trace in six years’ of bank records and might not include other cash transactions, officials from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles told parents and alumni at a meeting Monday night at St. James Catholic Church in Redondo Beach...
When a parent asked what the money was spent on, the attorney said: “We do know that they had a pattern of going on trips, we do know they had a pattern of going to casinos, and the reality is, they used the account as their personal account.”

im电竞官网-Do croupiers qualify for the ministerial exception?

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