7/2/2014 - July 2014 SLI Newsletter
Dear Friends and Supporters,
Next month, public and nonpublic schools will begin the 2014-2015 school year. For nonpublic schools, there will be some changes in the law, all for the best. This month’s Educational Update provides an analysis of recently passed legislation. If you need assistance or have questions, please contact us. We want everyone to be comfortable with their rights in the coming school year.
As a reminder, July 15, 2014 will be the runoff elections for many legislative and local races throughout the state. If you will not be able to vote on July 15, check the Secretary of State’s website (www.sos.state.al.us) to get instructions for your absentee ballot.
On June 30, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down one of its most important religious freedom decisions in years. This was the ruling in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Products cases dealing with whether those for profit companies could be required under Obamacare to provide contraceptives and abortifacients as part of their emloyees’ insurance. The companies objected because it violated their sincerely held religious beliefs relating to unborn human life.
We will provide a later analysis related to religious freedom and other constitutional issues such as same sex marriage. For the time being, we want to emphasize these cases were not about the sanctity of life and abortion. Those were the underlying facts that brought the application of the law into question. If you read the dissent of the four liberal justices, the case was only about women’s healthcare issues. What they really mean is abortion rights. And while many pro-lifers trumpeted the decision, its holding is farther reaching. It provides significant protection to religious rights.
Justice Alito wrote the majority opinion and was joined by Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Kennedy, the latter usually being the swing vote. The court ruled that while the government had a compelling interest in healthcare, it did not achieve its interest in the least burdensome way on others’ religious rights. This is a judicial test under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This was a reasonable conclusion. What may be suspect, however, is that Justice Kennedy felt the need to write a separate concurring opinion opining that government must be tolerant of religious freedom and no person’s right demeaned, “[Y]et neither may that same exercise unduly restrict other persons, such as employees, in protecting their own interests, interests the law deems compelling.” In light of Kennedy’s opinions in same sex marriage cases, this simple quote could be a dark foreboding.
This is the middle of the summer. It is a time when our contributions usually fall off. Please do not forget financial support for our efforts. We are very grateful for your continuing support. With personal regards, I am,
Yours very truly,
A. Eric Johnston
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