It Takes One to Know One


Michael Sean Winters has a post today where he doubles down on his claim that attorneys for the Little Sisters of the Poor are telling “a lie” when they say Obamacare forces the Sisters to sign a “permission slip” for abortion pill and contraception coverage in their health plan.

pinnochioIn his response Winters tells two whopping “lies” himself. But it is clear that he isn’t actually responding to the Little Sisters’ attorneys–Winters is hoping that his hysterics will influence someone else.

Winters first lies about what the Sisters’ “certification” form says. He quotes the part of the form expressing a religious objection, and then he insists that’s all the form says, that there is no additional language making someone else provide abortion-pill coverage in the Sisters’ plan. This is a lie set forth in black and white. On the Sisters’ required form, it explicitly and additionally says:

[T]he eligible organization:

(1)Will not act as the plan administrator or claims administrator with respect to claims for contraceptive services, or contribute to the funding of contraceptive services; and

(2) The obligations of the third party administrator are set forth in 26 CFR 54.9815-2713A, 29 CFR 2510.3-16, and 29 CFR 2590.715-2713A.

This certification is an instrument under which the plan is operated.

Those words are specific legal language creating not only permission, but “obligations” for someone else to provide the objectionable coverage. It’s even more than a “permission slip”–it’s a command that the Little Sisters are forced to recite. Winters lies when he says it isn’t on the form.

The Obama administration added this language purposefully so self-insured religious groups would create these “obligations” in a third party, because they knew (and said so in their final rule) they have no legal basis to impose this mandate themselves.

Here’s a simple test question to betray Winters’ lie. Will Obamacare let the Little Sisters submit a form that only has the religious objection language (that Winters says is the only thing on the form), but does not have the imposition of “obligations” language from page 2 of the form?

The answer is no: if the Sisters merely submit religious objection language the Obama administration will fine them. Why? Because the form also has language declaring it imposes obligations for someone else to provide the objectionable coverage, and the government insists that the Little Sisters must be the ones to recite that “obligations” language. It isn’t enough for the government to recite the language–the Sisters must recite it. The final rule–written by the Obama administration–explains this.

Winters’ denial of this explicit “obligations”-command language on the form is, as he says of the Sisters’ attorneys, “the lie of the zealous. It is what happens when someone sees all of reality through a single lens,” namely Winters lens of leftist pro-Obama extremism. He contradicts the very form for which he provides a link.

Winters’ second “lie of the zealous” also displays his sloppiness. In response to the highly respectful post from Daniel Blomberg of the Becket Fund, who pointed out that two federal judges themselves called the self-insured form a “permission slip,” Winters insultingly observed that only a “George Bush” appointed “Fox News” watching judge could characterize it that way.

This whopper shows that Winters didn’t even read Blomberg’s post. Blomberg explicitly observed that one of the two judges to repeat the “permission slip” label is an Obama appointee, and Blomberg supplied a link to that judge’s opinion wherein he repeats the “permission slip” language.

When Winters lies about these two explicit facts, he isn’t really speaking to the Becket Fund. He is hoping that his lies will persuade, as he says, “Bishops, of all people.”  Winters is furious that the U.S. Bishops have consistently opposed President Obama’s attack on religious freedom, and that many have themselves asserted this exact “permission slip” argument in court–because the facts back them up.

Winters has suffered ecclesiastical rejection so long he has now worked himself into a frenzy. Reasonable disagreement is no longer possible–anyone not adopting Winters’ partisan advocacy is a L-I-A-R.  Winters is willing to lie himself in the hopes that by hysterically screaming “liar” over and over again, maybe some bishops who once knew him as a rational person will not check Winters’ own facts.

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About Author

Matt Bowman is a pro-life, religious liberties and constitutional law attorney in the Washington, DC area. He graduated from Ave Maria School of Law in 2003 and clerked for several federal judges thereafter. The Bowmans are involved in homeschooling and classical Catholic education and are rabid fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Matt is a member of the Knights of Columbus and his local parish.

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