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Last updateWed, 04 Dec 2019 3pm

Politics

Hobby Lobby Case: Should Contraceptives Be Covered Under Health Insurance? Pt.1

Here we go again, yet another “Obamacare” controversy and another case of the federal government treating the Constitution like its toilet paper. On March 25, the Supreme Court heard its oral arguments from the owners of Hobby Lobby and the federal government. The issue is that the owners of Hobby Lobby are forced under the Obamacare mandate, to pay for contraceptives in their employees’ health insurance. The mandate includes 20 forms of government approved contraceptives. The Green family is against covering four of those forms of contraceptives because they believe that they are similar to abortion, which is against their religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby’s opposition argues that the company itself is violating the rights of its employees but that is not the case. In fact, the owners of Hobby Lobby’s rights are the ones being infringed upon and here’s why.

The first two clauses of the First Amendment state “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Clearly this law violates the Free Exercise Clause. Hobby Lobby is a privately owned business which gives the owners the right to run it how they please, as long as it goes along with federal regulations. The Obamacare mandate is, of course, a federal regulation. However, the difference between this regulation and any other regulation like minimum wage, discrimination, or child labor laws is that none of these actually require anyone to go against their religious beliefs.

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GUC Event: “I Want to Commit a Crime But in Which Nation, The USA, China or Japan”

fingerprint-through-magnifying-glassDr. Peter Lui, associate professor of criminal justice and Chair of the Criminal Justice Department hosted a Classroom Colloquium called, I Want to Commit a Crime, But in Which Nation, The USA, China,or Japan.

Lui ran it, playing it off like he was a criminal to grab the attention of the room. Lui said, "I don't want to be caught if I commit a crime. Or if I did commit the crime I don't want to be punished or severely punished." Then several crimes were brought up in depth by several different groups of students.

The first crime was brought up by a student Jenna, whose topic was drug relations. According to the presentation, the U.S. was the easiest place to commit this crime.

The U.S has such a high amount of plea bargaining that is done because of the back-up in cases, rarely anyone gets off with jail time and even less so with the death penalty.

However, it was expressed clearly that if a citizen was found carrying above a certain petty amount of a drug, their jail time was heightened by 10-20 years, more for every upgrade in amount of the drug.

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Hobby Lobby Case Could Have Impact on Contraceptives and Health Insurance

hobby-lobby-cartoonThe Supreme Court heard the oral arguments of Hobby Lobby, a national chain of crafts stores based in Oklahoma City, and its opposition. The debate started in September of 2012 when the Green family, who are the devout Christian owners of Hobby Lobby and other members of the company, filed a suit in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Oklahoma.

According to PBS.org, the suit argued against the mandate by the Affordable Care Act and the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) which requires companies to include coverage of 20 forms of government approved contraceptives in their health insurance.

The owners of Hobby Lobby reject four of the contraceptive methods because they believe they work like forms of abortion. They also argue that their religious rights have been violated by the mandate because it forces them to take part of something that they believe goes against their faith. Steve Green, the president of Hobby Lobby said an interview with PBS that, "This is an issue of life. We cannot be a part of taking life. To be in a situation where our government is telling us we have to be is incredible."

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The Supreme Court Got it Right

McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission Case Debated


free_speech_cartoonCapitalism underpins the greatest freedoms in the United States. The goal of earning individual profits is inherent in a free society, with personal gain acting as a motivator in a fluid class structure. As it relates to the recent decision of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Committee, the Supreme Court opted to protect the capitalistic rights of the individual, voting against the campaign finance limits set forth by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. The act, according to fec.gov, sought to limit campaign contributions made by individuals so as to fight corruption within the political sphere.

However, as it was aptly reasoned by Chief Justice John Roberts, restrictions on an individual's campaign contributions immediately strikes against First Amendment protections regarding the freedom of speech. In Roberts' opinion, he elaborated that as it pertains to political speech, "The First Amendment safeguards an individual's right to participate in the public debate through political expression and public association. When an individual contributes money to a candidate, he exercises both of those rights."

By striking down campaign contribution limits, the Supreme Court is making the political world more accessible to the average person. Expressing one's political views requires an audience willing to listen. And despite the advent of the internet and social media, a captive audience is difficult to come by, considering the availability of conflicting ideas and opinions. Thus, in line with the United States' representative democracy, political campaign contributions are the best opportunity for those dedicated to political expression to convey their ideas by supporting the candidates who represent them.

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The Supreme Court Got it Wrong

McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission Case Debated


democracy-not-for-saleOn April 2 the Supreme Court came down with the most recent ruling on campaign finance. The outcome: an end to longstanding aggregate limits on campaign contributions. McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission brings the biggest change in free speech through campaign finance since the Citizens United decision in 2010. What exactly we regard as free speech has been subject to definitional expansion. First Amendment protection of ripping draft cards and protesting funerals of gay veterans has given us one of the most politically expressive societies in the modern world. The question at hand is, whether or not spending money in our political process is an act of political expression.

Our Supreme Court justices voted 5-4 that indeed it is, in an opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts. The holding was that aggregate spending contributions do not meet the "rigorous" standards of review used to rule on corruption in prior cases on campaign finance. Simply put, five justices think that putting a cap on how much someone gives overall to PACs, political parties, and directly to candidates is unconstitutional.

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The Story Behind TOMS Shoes

Various companies have been favoring the business tactic of "buy one, give one", meaning a customer buys the product, and the company donates an equivalent item to someone in need. However, there has been a split view on how much this really helps the ones in need.

TOMS Shoes has been known to be one of the very first companies to do this "for-profit" method. They call this the "One for One." While on a trip volunteering outside of Buenos Aires, Argentina, the company's founder Blake Mycoskie noticed a lack of shoes not only in Argentina but also in other developing countries and how this was a bigger problem than it seemed. He then created this company where if one consumer buys a pair of shoes, another pair of shoes is donated to a third world country. With the launch of the company in May 2006, TOMS sold more than 10,000 pairs of shoes in the first six months. The initial batch of free shoes was distributed in Oct. 2006 to Argentine children.

Since then, the canvas shoes have been given to children in 40 countries worldwide, including the U.S. and have given away over 1 million pairs. Since then, many other companies have picked up this idea such as Warby Parker. For every pair of glasses a customer buys from Warby Parker they cover the cost of sourcing and producing a second pair of glasses for partners like the social enterprise VisionSpring, and Kno Clothing, who donate articles of clothing to someone in need.

Companies like these have given the opportunity for consumers to give back in such a simple way. "There isn't much more to it than that," Neil Blumenthal, a co-founder of Warby Parker said. "That's the beauty of it." According to a Cone Communication Public Relations & Marketing study, 80 percent of Americans are likely to switch brands, if comparable in price and quality, to one that supports a social cause.

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Formation of Collegiate Athletic Union May Take Focus Away from Academic Education

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Chicago ruled that the Northewestern University football players have the right to unionize on Wednesday March 26th.

This movement was started back in January when the former quarterback, Kain Colter, announced that he and several other Northwestern football players would like to join the Labor Union. The NLRB approved the players request and ruled that full scholarship athletes at Northwestern are employees of the school and have the right to form a union, according to CBS Chicago.

However, the players are not necessarily looking for compensation but rather have a say in health issues and benefits for college athletes.

The NLRB’s ruling has been subject to controversial debate around the country and amongst college athletes. Sophomore football player at Monmouth University, Keone Osby, agrees with the movement saying, “I think it’s good that they’re pushing to unionize because it will allow athletes to voice their opinions and be heard.”

Tyler Saito, a sophomore baseball player for Monmouth said, “Scholarships are enough.” He continued to say that the players union will, “take away from the game.”

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McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission Decision Changes Campaign Finance Laws

The Supreme Court struck down the federal law on campaign contributions in the case, McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission. Only leaving a cap on donations to a single candidate on April 2nd.

Dr. Jospeh Patten, Chair of the Political Science and Sociology Department said that the case, removed the $123,000 cap on campaign contributions for individuals and corporations.

According to Patten, “That includes contributions to candidate Political Action Committee (PACs) and parties. What the decision did is removed the cap so now an individual can contribute $3.5 million if they spread it to the PACs party and candidate. Similar way to the other case. its trending toward where the court that takes away primary of general give to all my members of Congress to PACs.”

Patten said in regards to the cap of $2,600 for single candidate donations, “It’s trending to where it will be overturned. Will it actually happen? We shall see. Although this is a very controversial ruling among the people it had nowhere near the same reaction as Citizen vs. United case.”

Patten explains that, “The Citizen United case was more provocative in getting public backlash. This current case is another case about big money having a voice but I don’t think it will have the same kind reaction from the public.”

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What Does the World Think of American Politics?

An article on The Washington Post recently published a map of  “Who Loves and Hates America: A revealing map of global opinion toward the U.S.,” which broke down various countries approval rating of America.

Dr. Saliba Sarsar, professor of political science and Associate Vice President for Global Initiatives, said, “There are those who are happy to live in their own countries and who do not wish to immigrate. There are also those who are unhappy in their own countries, who wish to immigrate, but cannot for various reasons.”

Sarsar continued, “Still, there are those who feel disaffected and have a negative view of U.S. policies abroad, while they have positive views of the American people. In particular are policies that they interpret or misinterpret as biased, expansionistic, or self-serving. For instance, more than a few Middle Easterners are suspicious of U.S. policies towards authoritarian regimes, as well as U.S. actual or perceived conflict with Muslim-majority countries.”

The Washington Post article continues to discribe the countries that do have a sense of approval for the U.S. “So who seems to like America? It's a long list – longer than you might expect. America scores similar favorability ratings in a few countries we might assume, wrongly, don't like us so much: Mexico, despite U.S. immigration policies targeting Mexicans, and Russia, where President Vladimir Putin has pushed some populist anti-Americanism. We are also moderately liked in the post-Soviet state of Ukraine, in Brazil and in the United Kingdom. I thought we'd be more popular in the U.K., where politicians make a big deal out of the special relationship with Washington.”

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New Jersey State Legislature Promotes Town Mergers, Could West Long Branch Be Next?

New Jersey’s municipalities are facing pressure to consolidate as the state legislature seeks to rekindle the argument in favor of town mergers. In November 2011, the Township of Princeton and the Borough of Princeton headlined the movement towards NJ town mergers by joining to create Princeton Township.

According to the New Jersey State Legislature, New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney proposed a measure that would promote “the more effective operation of local government and the sharing of services among local units.”

The NJ Legislation, however, is not the only body advocating for town mergers. Courage to Connect NJ, a non-profit organization is also promoting the combination of municipalities through its website which details a six step process for town consolidation.

The legislation seeks to encourage town mergers largely as a response to New Jersey’s near-legendary property taxes. After the Princeton Township merger the average resident, according to the Courier Post, saw a reduction in property taxes of approximately $126/year. Additionally, the Princeton merger, which was officially implemented in 2013, projects municipal expenditure savings of three-million dollars per year over a three year implementation period.

Mergers though have been met with significant backlash from residents of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities.

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Westboro Baptist Church Founder Fred Phelps Dies

Family Members Refused to Hold Funeral for Fear of Picketers


Fred Phelps leader and founder of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 84.

Phelps founded the Church in Topeka, KS in 1955. Using the title of Baptist Preacher, he and the church have embodied the most intrusive anti-gay movement in America, protesting public events, and even picketing the funerals of gay veterans.

According to civil rights leaders in Topeka, Phelps was a prominent, and wildly successful civil rights attorney in the 1960s. He took on numerous cases for black Americans, that many attorneys would not touch.

The Phelps along with his church have received national attention for aggressively and openly opposing those of the LGBT community. According to CNN, they first made headlines in 1998 when the church picketed Matthew Shepard’s funeral.

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Contact Information

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Monmouth University
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Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu