Judge: Government can't hire Catholic charity to aid sex slaves because it prohibits referrals for abortions, contraception

A federal judge in Boston yesterday ruled a federal contract with a Catholic charity to administer a program to aid people brought here as prostitutes violates the First Amendment because the charity ordered subcontractors not to refer victims for abortions or birth control.

The ruling comes in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Massachusetts. Although the government's contract with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has expired, US District Court Judge Richard Stearns said the issue is not moot because the conference had indicated a desire to re-apply for the job of administering benefits under a federal human-trafficking law - even though government lawyers argued future programs would "give strong preference to organizations that will make referrals for the full range of legally permissible obstetrical and gynecological services, including abortion and contraception."

Stearns wrote paying the conference a total of $16 million for services that were limited by its religious views:

Violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, insofar as they delegated authority to a religious organization to impose religiously based restrictions on the expenditure of taxpayer funds, and thereby impliedly endorsed the religious beliefs of the USCCB and the Catholic Church.

In a footnote, he added:

This case is not about government forcing a religious institution to act contrary to its most fundamental beliefs. No one is arguing that the USCCB can be mandated by government to provide abortion or contraceptive services or be discriminated against for its refusal to do so. Rather, this case is about the limits of the government’s ability to delegate to a religious institution the right to use taxpayer money to impose its beliefs on others (who may or may not share them).

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I wonder how wise it is to

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I wonder how wise it is to keep pushing the Catholic Church (or any other religion) out of the charity business. Are there really so many secular organization that are large enough and have such low overhead that they can pick up the slack? Serious question. I know the Catholic Church got out of the adoption business for similar reasons. What was the effect there? Positive or negative?

I'm reminded of the speech Col. Jessup gives while on the stand in A Few Good Men, "You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty...we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way."

Of course, he's the bad guy. However, there is a lot of truth there. Maybe we should just say "thank you" and go on our way.

Ah, another example of the

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Ah, another example of the words of a Jew being perverted to justify the behavior of the Catholics. Except it's not from scripture this time, it's from Aaron Sorkin's play.

Or

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if they're going to use public money, they need to do what most every other private healthcare/social services agency does and hire licensed providers who abide by the practice guidelines and ethics codes of their respective credentialing organizations. All of the healthcare professions state that it's fine to be same-sex-attracted and/or transgender (and that trying to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity causes harm), all state that a provider must counsel people around issues like abortion or sex or drugs using current scientific evidence rather than their own personal beliefs, etc.

Oh, and any entity receiving public money (including tax breaks related to nonprofit status) really should be required to abide by the local nondiscrimination laws.

Watch this space

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The judge's footnote says "No one is arguing that the USCCB can be mandated by government to provide abortion or contraceptive services..."

Correct. But before long the US Justice Department will argue for exactly that point regarding not only the USCCB, but many other religious institutions that have have paid employees who receive benefits that are now regulated by Obamacare. The plaintiffs will not only be Catholic institutions, but also certain Protestant, Jewish, Mormon, and Islamic employers.

So what? Working for an

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So what? Working for an employer, even a religious one, does not mean that the employer is able to impose its organizational beliefs on the private lives of its employees.

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Right!

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I don't get to say that my employees may not use their paychecks to buy bacon, because pork is against my religious beliefs.

About time!

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No government money should be going to subsidize religious organizations. Period. This is one of the most hypocritical parts of our law system. The Constitution explicitly forbids it, but the corruption of religion has been too strong in the past.

Next up: the tax exemption for religious organizations must end. Not only does it violate the Constitution, it perverts land use when churches are motivated to hold onto large tracts of tax free land, at everyone else's expense.

Without need for irony

We can thank God that other religious and secular groups pick up the slack when Catholic Charities and such gum up the works. Both here and in California (oh, and England), religious charities stopped offering adoptions and stopped their long-standing practice of adopting out to homosexual couples...only to claim they were forced to stop by the government.

First, the choice is if you want government money, you operate under the same non-discrimination rules as any other organization. Second, had Catholic Charities really wanted to keep offering adoption services while limiting them to straights only, they can simply do so and fund the operation themselves.

They were willing to leave kids in foster care or orphanages to play politics. Not good and not Godly.

Oh the levels of hypocrisy

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Okay, so the ACLU is essentially saying that when the federal government gave a contract to a group who have their subcontractors do the same thing the federal government requires of overseas aid organizations getting assistance (see the global gag rule, which was in effect when the contract was first done and will probably be instituted in 2013 or 2017), this is wrong somehow. In what universe does this make sense?

Look, if you want groups to carry out policies when they receive aid, put it in the rules. I thought it stunk to high heaven when Catholic Charities had to get out of the adoption biz, but rules are rules. In this case, there was no such requirement, and the feds knew what was going on. You want victims of sexual trafficking to have access to abortion and birth control info, put it in the requirements.

I'm a social conservative, but I'll flip this. Remember when everyone on my theoretical side was upset that Planned Parenthood was getting funding and wanted it stopped, only that the funding was for true healthcare that hand little to nothing to do with their core mission (that being population control)? Well, that was penny wise and pound foolish. Now the looney left would rather bar the door to organizations that have worldwide experience in helping these victims due to their views on birth control? Seriously?

The ACLU do good things, but crap like this is why I hate them as much as I do.

It is the rule

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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion

That's the rule, and it's been so for about 230 years. The only hypocrisy is when the government violates the First Amendment and hands out money to religious organizations for religious purposes.

I'm a bit confused

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So, helping out with victims of sex trafficking is religious purposes? What other religious things is the federal government doing?

Look, if Catholic Charities or CRS are making people convert, that's an issue. But when the feds have a policy (or had and probably will again have) and give money to groups who also have the same policy, that is not an advancement of religion.

Issues of birth/population control go beyond religion. Romania allowed then disallowed abortion and forced birth control based on economic whims. China's one child policy has nothing to do with any church. Different religions and faiths have different views on this matter. When a church DEMANDS funding, that is establishment. When a group affiliated with a religion sees ways to help the government by bidding on some social services being contracted out, that's not establishment. As long as they abide by religion neutral government policies (like not mentioning abortion, as was done under Baptist and Presbyterian Presidents,) how is it establishment?

Unless, of course, you are a strong libertarian who things that all social services should be done and funded without any government control or assistance.

Show me where this case shows that the Roman Catholic Church is made the official religion of the United States in this case and I will defer to you on the matter.

Helping isn't religious

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It's the imposition of religiously-motivated restrictions on aid that distinguishes the Catholic charity from secular charities and violates the First Amendment.

Good point, but

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The policies of Mother Church and the policies of HHS were the same when the contract was let out, at least if you take the Global Gag rule as what the policy of HHS was.

Look, if the contract stated that birth control and abortion information were part of the contract, and CRS or other associate Catholic organizations said "look, we want the contract but we won't do what the contract said due to our beliefs" and still got the contract due to some exception made expressly for them, that's problematic as far as the first amendment goes. That would be just like the adoption issue here in Massachusetts.

If the contract was for aiding these exploited women get their lives back in order, get jobs and homes and self-confidence to get away from these exploiters, and that was all, the Church is not imposing their beliefs. Well, okay, they are, but only in as much as the Church is pro-helping people who are in this situation. and if that is the case, every group that would help them would be doing the same thing.

The Catholic Church can kiss my ass

Seriously, when are they going to just get listed as a terror group already? Like, they (expletived) kids in the (expletive.) What else do they need to do to be blackballed in a civilized country?

Interesting take.

The Catholic Church is a bunch of pederasts, so you lash out and invite them to performs a sex act on your rectum?

You're a strange, creepy dude.