November 3, 2013
Dear President Obama, This Is Why Judges Matter : Two Bush appointees deliver body blows to reproductive rights--and demonstrate the power of the bench. (Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick, 11/02/13, Slate)
It's been a day of body blows for reproductive rights. On Thursday night, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit reversed a lower court's decision to temporarily block a provision of the omnibus Texas abortion law that requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The appeals court found that it's constitutionally OK for the requirement to trigger the closure of fully one-third of the reproductive health clinics in the state, because the Supreme Court has found that "the incidental effect of making it more difficult or more expensive to procure an abortion cannot be enough to invalidate it." The ruling will be catastrophic, measured in access for women to a procedure they have the constitutional right to obtain. The decision was written by Judge Priscilla R. Owen, a George W. Bush appointee, and joined by two other judges who are women--oh how the right is crowing--and also Bush appointees. [...]On Friday, morning, it was the turn of another extremely conservative woman chosen for the bench by Bush, Janice Rogers Brown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Brown handed down a similarly dramatic decision holding that the provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires companies to provide health care coverage that includes contraception "trammels" the religious freedom of an Ohio-based food service company, Freshway Foods, which claimed that the mandate violated its Catholic faith. This is a company we are talking about, not its owners. But following headlong in the wake of the Supreme Court's wrongheaded finding in Citizens United that corporations are people, too, Brown found that the mandate violates the company's strongly held religious convictions. To make the company provide a health care plan--from an outside insurer--that offers contraceptive coverage is a "compel[led] affirmation of a repugnant belief," Brown wrote. The argument that a for-profit secular company has a religious conscience--separate and apart from the religious beliefs of its owners--is a notion that vaults the concept of personhood from the silly ("corporations are people, my friend") to the sublime (also they pray).It's hard to overstate how radical these two decisions are.
Nor how radical the American people are.Posted by Orrin Judd at November 3, 2013 9:10 AM