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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  June 30, 2014 4:00pm-6:01pm EDT

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situation. so i think that is one of the enduring reasons why we need to make sure we have the right for structure in europe so that we can respond >> you talked about some of the heavy a committee going over the border from russia to ukraine. what about russian special forces? i know you mentioned it was evident some of the separatists were not really separatist but acting more like special forces and russian operatives. correction have heard me say before the following litany which remains today -- russian regular forces are very active along the border of ukraine. facilitating the movement of forces come equipment, and finances across the border. russian irregular forces are very active inside eastern ukraine i'll stop russian-backed
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forces are active inside eastern ukraine and russian financing is very active inside eastern ukraine. >> thank you all. >> president obama is going to announce his pick to head the veterans affairs department, replacing eric shinseki, who resigned last month. will be robert mcdonald, a former executive at procter & gamble. we will be live here on c-span with the announcement expected in about a half an hour from now at 4:30 eastern. burnish prime minister david cameron reported to the house of commons today about his meetings last week with european union leaders. the eu is set to elect its next
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resident of the commission in july. they have decided to nominate a person prime minister cameron have -- has opposed. this is about one hour. we will show you as much as much as we can before the president's announcement. >> i would like to make a statement on the european council. let me briefly report back on two other points. first, the council began in april with a moving ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the gunshots in sarajevo that led to the first world war. it is right we should take special steps to commemorate the century of this and her armor the extraordinary sacrifice of a generation who gave their lives for our freedom. is determined to ensure britain has fitting national commemoration,
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including the reopening of a newly refurbished imperial war museum what the -- next month. second, the council signed association agreements with all bovine ukraine number reflecting our commitment to supporting these countries as they take difficult reforms that will bolster their democracies and improve the stability of the whole continental stop the president join the council to discuss the immediate situation in ukraine. the council welcomed his plan and the extension of the cease-fire until this evening. the onus is on russia to respond positively by pressing for a genuine cease-fire -- cease-fire and return occupied border posts to ukrainian authorities. the council agreed if we do not see concrete progress soon, we remain willing to impose further sanctions on russia which would not necessarily require a further meeting of the council, but the council itself would return to this issue at its next meeting which has been arranged for the 16th of july. turning to the appointment of
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the next commission president, i forly believe it should be the european council, elected heads of national council to oppose the head of the european commission. it should not be for european parliament to try to do tape that choice to the council. this is a point of principle upon which i was not prepared to budge. this is edition, i welcome the support of the leader of the opposition as well as the deputy prime minister in opposing the imposition of john claude junker. i believe they could have found a candidate who commanded the support of every member state of stop that has been the practice on every previous occasion and i think it was a mistake to abandon this approach this time. of course the mothers a reason why no veto is available when it comes to this decision. lastis because the
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government signed a treaty that gave up our veto for the nomination of the commission president as well as the lisbon the parliamentve stronger rights to elect the commission president. once it was clear the council was determined to proceed, i insisted the european council took a formal vote. facing the prospect of being outvoted, some might have swallowed it and gone with the flow but i believe it was important to push the principal and are deep misgivings about this issue right till the end. if the european council was going to let the european parliament choose the next commission this way, i wanted to put written's opposition firmly on the record. was a bad day for europe because the decision of the council risks undermining the position of national governments and risks undermining the power of national parliament by handing
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further power to the european parliament. while the nomination has been decided and must be accepted, it is important the council agrees to reconsider how to handle the appointment of the next commission president next time this happens, and that is set out in the council's conclusion. turning to the future, we must work with a new commission president as we always do to secure our national interests. i spoke to him last night -- >> the statement by the prime minister must he heard. his great interest in questioning the prime minister and there will be a time to do so but courtesy digg eights the prime minister must be heard. >> he repeated his commitment to address risk concerns about the eu. this whole process only underlines my conviction that europe needs to change. some modest progress was made in arguing for reform.
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makeouncil conclusions absolutely clear the focus of the mandate for the next five years must be on building stronger economies and creating jobs, exactly as agreed with leaders of sweden, germany and the netherlands the summer. the council underlined needs to address concerns about immigration arising from misuse from or fraudulent claims on the right of freedom of movement. national parliament should have a stronger role and the eu should only act were aches a real difference. we broke new ground, stating specifically that every union must allow for different parts of immigration for different countries and respect the wishes of those like britain that do not want further integration. for the first time, all my fellow 27 heads of government have agreed explicitly that they need to address britain's concerned about the european union. that has not been said before. while europe has taken a big words, we did secure
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some small steps for for britain and its relationship with the eu. mr. speaker, last week off outcome will make renegotiations with the europeans harder and it certainly makes the stakes higher. there will always be huge challenges in this long campaign to reform the european union. but, with determination, i believe we can deliver. we cut the budget and got britain out of the bailout scheme and retrieve day fundamental reform of the disastrous fisheries policy and made progress on the red tape. thee making progress on free-trade deals vital to new growth and jobs in britain. my colleagues in the european council no that britain wants and needs reforms and they know britain sticks to its position. mr. speaker, and european elections, people cried out for change across the continent and they deserve a voice. britain will be the voice of those people. up for ourays stand
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principles and we will always defend our national interests and we will fight with all we have to reform the you over the next few years. at the end of 2017, it will not be me or the end of this parliament that decides written's future and european union, it will be the british people. >> mr. speaker, i start by joining the premised are in remembering all of those who lost their lives in the first world war and it is right we will be marking their sacrifice at ease events throughout this year. i also welcome the association moldova, with georgia, and ukraine and i endorse the sentiments about the responsibilities of the russian government. mr. speaker, the truth is the prime minister returned to britain on friday having failed. mild, small failure, but
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an appalling failure of relationship building, winning support, and delivering for britain. i know it's inconvenient to remind him, but he lost by 26 votes to two. and then he comes to this chamber and seems to claim it as a complete vindication. think it may represents splendid isolation. it is not. it is utter humiliation. with a mandate from all major parties, including labor, he could build an alliance to stop mr. junker. he started with a divided europe over the candidacy and ended with a united europe against him. he did not say how did he think he pulled off this remarkable achievement will stop what did
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the german chancellor say at the start of the process? she said this -- the agenda of the next european commission can be handled by junker but also by many others. at the end, there will be a broad tableau of names on the table. mr. speaker, how did we end up with only one name and how did she and 25 others and up supporting him? the threats him insult and disengagement toward out to be a master class to alienate your allies. his red to leave the european union if mr. junker was chosen. we already went rowing in a boat with chancellor merkel in a swedish lake in order to win support. but what did she say afterwards? she said this -- threats are not
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part and parcel of the european spirit. part of the way in which we usually proceed. we know who she was talking about. she was talking about him and what happened is great allies in europe? it has been suggested we now mr. allies will stop speaker, all he needed to do to block mr. junker was persuade the people in the vote. everyone voted against them. prime minister voted against him. the german chancellor voted against them. now he wants to imply all of this shows every other european leaders equally unprincipled. the health secretary went as far to say everyone else was a coward.
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is that how he would describe his fellow european leaders? isn't there another more possible explanation? the problem is a toxic supporter, him. he could reality that not attract any allies because the rest of europe simply lost patience as a result of his actions, not just in the last few weeks but in the last few years? it comes down to this -- when he comes calling, they believe he's doing so to solve the problems not theservative party problems of the european union. take the polish foreign minister. he is an angle fire -- he is an anglophile and this is what he said -- he is not interested, he does not get it, his whole
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strategy of feeding them scrap in order to satisfy them is turning against him. field to those who are now embarrassing him. , calm yourself, man. only this morning, a teacher said to me in speaker's house, how can i tell a little boy in my class to behave when parliamentarians don't? be a good boy. get the message. >> maybe he can tell us whether he agrees with the assessment of the polish foreign minister and who can blame the polish foreign for thinking this? every time his prime minister has had a major decision to make, he's put party interest before national interests. he walked out of the european people's party nine years ago and earlier this month, through in his hat with the german equivalent. how did that go down with
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chancellor merkel? isn't that decision eight care -- a parable of his failure to lead for britain? short term heart he management and huge long-term losses for britain's national interest. three years ago, he walked out of the european council announcing he had vetoed the treaty but it went ahead yesterday and he looked absurd. now, mr. speaker, you want to negotiate a new treaty when you can say what you want in it. all the time, driven by a party you center of gravity is drifting toward access. acceptaker, doesn't he that the strategy of threatening exit was put to the test and failed? i know they don't want to hear about his failure, but can they hear it? that the greate irony, the thing that makes it even worse is the prime minister
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is a great supporter of britain's membership of the european union? we agree we should be in the speaker,union, but mr. doesn't he agree the problem he has is the gap tween what people behind him are demanding and it what sensible european reform amounts to? europe is not under formable, it's just that he cannot do it. >> order. the role of the prime minister's notes to fetch and carry and not an shake his head in the right places. quiet allmson, be stop if you can't be quiet, get out, man. he could not get for countries to support him and if he cannot get for countries to block the appointment of a president, how on earth is he going to get the seven countries
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to support a new treaty? this weekend has shown conclusively to everyone but this prime minister that his negotiating strategy is in tatters all stop and we know where it would end. he would be caught in the gulf between what he believes and what he can negotiate. failed overnister mr. junker. >> order. i'm quite sure the opposition would bring the remarks to a close. and the mob should calm itself so he has the opportunity to do so. out maneuvered and out voted. and the building are losses, he's burning them.
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he cannot deliver for britain. >> the prime minister. >> we had yet another [inaudible]where endless wind, and less rhetoric, no question and no ability to stand up for britain. say i won't take lectures on negotiation from the people who gave away the veto, who gave away the rebate, who backed down on the budget every year, and who signed us up -- we won't take any lessons from them. we did not have a veto in this situation because they signed the lisbon treaty. this side ofd on the house. when he talks about the ability to get together allies -- where were his allies in the socialist party? they had a meeting in paris. all the key socialist leaders
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were there. they all decided to support jean-claude uecker. -- john claude junker. i have to say to the right honorable jerome and that not once did he actually say he did not support him either. and i have to say to support the government over opposing this principle and this individual only to criticize and complain is typical of his approach -- week, opportunistic and wrong. >> may i express to our prime minister my admiration. opposition toined to thection of the man
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presidency of the european union of is wedded to the idea closer political and economic to the freedom of which wouldpeoples siphon huge numbers of further immigrants into this country. deplore be provocative unionon of the european to move its economic front here to within 300 miles of moscow, which will certainly be regarded by russia as a strategic threat to which they will respond. >> can i say to my right old friend, i completely agree will about the importance of recognizing the freedom of movement is not an unqualified right and it's properly
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qualified with respect to benefit abuse. where i do not agree with the father of the house is the eastern partnership stake eu has entered into actually can help to embed market economics and democracies in those countries. it's very important to stress with respect to ukraine or although that this is not like asking countries about which group they want to fit into, whether they want to choose between having a good relationship with russia or a good relationship with the eu. they should be able to have good relationships with both. why is always such a magnificent victory to him? >> i always prefer when we succeed in cutting the eu budget in the we succeed regulation. there are times it is important to stand up or principle and not
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to give in no matter what the pressure. it doesn't matter how may countries were against me, it was the wrong candidate, the wrong principles and there are were times you stick to your guns. >> does the prime minister agree the conclusion of the european council were both unprecedented and very helpful? referring to aly two speed europe which imply we all end up at the same destination. to deepenwant integration, we must allow that but also respect the wishes of those who do not want to give in any further. does this not represent real progress with regard to one of the main objectives from the united kingdom? >> i think my friend is right. the toughest things we are asking for and the
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renegotiations. context, the concept allows for different parts of immigration, those who want to deepen immigration to move ahead while respect ingo wish of those who do not want to deepen any further. the conclusion also said there are concerns tomorrow and those concerns need to be addressed. >> thank you, mr. speaker. can i welcome the prime minister for the enlargement of the eu with the announcement albania has become the sixth candidate country to join? >> i agree with the honorable gentleman that the enlargement incess has an successful
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driving the development and improving the democracy and development of these countries and i further agree that engaging with them now because a country like albania has challenges developing its economy and getting into democracy. there will have to be a totally new approach to transitional controls. >> don't the antecedents of this problem go back to the fateful decision of the prime minister when he was running for his to approve thep conservatives from the european people's party? was the candidate of the epp. have influenced him in private rather than impotence in public. it would have been good for his party and good for the government and my goodness, far
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better for britain. >> i have great respect for the right old john. but i think he is profoundly wrong about this. -- youeral democrats were not able to stop the leading candidate process in they were will stop completely incapable of stopping the candidate process in that group. there were members of the epp that did not approve of it but still could not stop but. the idea that we would be able to stop it is complete nonsense. 26-2 is not just the score for the prime minister's most successful negotiation, it's also the score for the countries who are either in the euro our treaty obligations to be in the euro. if he wants to stand up for
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britain's interests, to make sure our interests are reflected as the euro zone requires political integration. >> the honorable lady is weolutely right to stop what need to secure is the european union where eurozone members need to integrate further can but members of the single market, particularly those like britain who do not want to join the euro can stay out of the integration and actually return powers to nationstates will stop i explained in these detailed negotiations that we made some ever closer union's and setting out specific concerns that britain had. but we have a long way to go. the job has gotten harder but there are many who understand you need a totally different approach to eurozone immersed.
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>> i commend my most honorable friend. principle,rriding national or laments are the root of our democracy. the yearspeople over have fought and died not only to save this country but europe as well. the european commission recently asserted -- and is now headed by mr. juncker, that the european parliament is really effective armament for the european union. does he agree with me that we must assert our national parliament and it must avail and therefore he is completely right >>what he did this weekend? my honorable friend makes an important point. there are those in europe that
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say the only democratic legitimacy in europe is the european parliament and somehow the parliament is the essence of democracy. this is completely wrong. of president to have a much bigger democratic mandate been the european parliament. there is another such election like this, you could have a candidate for the commission presidency that was deeply against the interest of other member states. perhaps a candidate who did not believe the baltic states belonged in the european union. that is why the principles at stake are so important. initially, sweden, poland and italy expressed reservations about the appointment of mr. juncker. what does the president -- what
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is the prime minister think is needed to change their mind question mark >> all of these countries in one way or another had signed up for the leading candidate process. the european political families, starting with the socialist, decided to appoint a candidate a wanted for the commission and epp and liberals followed suit. they find themselves strapped to a conveyor belt of their own making which they could not get off. that's what happened. that is why we rightly opposes right till the end. the primerage minister to return to the reform. long after the indignation is spent coming issue of reform will be absolutely fundamental to the future of the european union and our relationship with the stop not withstanding the disappointment, the president has been magmatic hopper ticket early with the telephone call of .ongratulations to mr. juncker
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there is much that can be done without treaty change. is it not time for the rigorous application and personality which do not need treaty change, only political will? agree that there are changes that can be made but my view is the sort of renegotiations written needs, we should be accompanying the treaty changes the eurozone in time will meet with treaty changes that will suit written in a way the honorable member pointed out as a country that wants to be in the single market but does not want to join the euro. suggest that it is the wrong people cheering. how exactly has britain us national interests been advanced by his recent posturing? >> it advances britain's
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interested people know the british prime minister and the public will set out on a principle and stick to it. all too often under the labor government, they did not stick to that principle. budget yearn on the after year and signed up to eurozone bailouts and if they stuck to their principles, they might have been more respected. >> much has been made of divisions inside the party over this issue. will the prime minister agree that indeed the opposite is true? tory whonation believes in our membership of the european union, i was proud of the way he stood up for british interests. agreed these -- mr. martinps shilts makes mr. juncker look like a skeptic. i think there is an important point and knees processes began
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because the european political parties to one after the other, decided to pick a leading candidate for the job. i did not have a candidate for the job as a political hearty leader because i think it is wrong to let the head of the commission in this way. that's the whole problem. i have to say the position labor would have been in if martin shilts ended up as commission president would have been even more embarrassing. >> mr. speaker, does the prime minister agree a british exit from the european union would be an economic disaster for this reduce british influence in europe and the world? >> it is not the outcome i seek. i want a secure and reform european union and i want britain to be part of that, but
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the problem with the honorable gentleman's position is the d not seem to see anything wrong with the current status quo. it's only on this side of house and this party that we know we need serious change in europe before we hold that referendum. >> i congratulate the prime minister. time -- we are not in the euro. we do not want to join the political union. only with strong leadership can we have leadership that makes sense for britain. >> good afternoon, everybody. please be seated. by thanking acting secretary gibson for welcoming us here today. i'm pleased to be joined by our vice president, joe biden, from
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leaders across this department and our many partners will stop representatives from our incredible veterans and military family service organizations. i want to begin by making a basic point. those of you who serve here at absolutely vital work every single day for our veterans and their families. care aboutto the liu our veterans. many of you are veterans yourselves. veterans serving the trends. you help them transition to , college, a first home, and start a new business stop you have some of the best doctors and provide some of the best specialized health care. cemeteries, ua are veterans to rest with dignity and compassion. i know that millions of veterans are profoundly grateful for the
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good work you do and i am grateful as well. of we are here today because problem that have outraged us all. that includes the inexcusable conduct we have seen of too many in the v.a. health care facilities. i'm here for two reasons. to update you and the american people on how we are fixing these problems and announce my choice for the next secretary of veterans affairs to move things forward. shouldst thing everyone know is those responsible for manipulating or falsifying records at the v.a. and those who tolerated are being held accountable. beenofficials have already relieved of their duties and investigations are continuing. as i have said, where we find misconduct, it will be punished. i have made it clear i expect the full cooperation for all investigations into wrong doing.
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second, we reached out to 135,000 veterans so far to get them off of the wait lists and into clinics. sentve added more staff, mobile medical units and we are making it easier for veterans to use hospitals and clinics outside the v.a.. it untileep at everyone of our veterans is off a waitlist and received the care that they have earned. we are moving ahead with urgent reforms at the veterans health of restriction will stop that 14 days scheduling goal has been removed from employee evaluations was so there's no reason to engage in inappropriate behavior, providing the highest quality care for our veterans need it, that is your incentive. measures ofe new patient satisfaction from the veterans respective. today's out dated scheduling system will be overhauled with the latest technology. reviewoadly, the
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conducted found and i am quoting -- significant systemic failures, including two little responsiveness, transparency and accountability. that is totally unacceptable. it recommends the vha be restructured and reformed with stronger management, leadership, and oversight and more doctors and staff will stop i totally agree and we are going to make that happen. i have asked rob to remain at the v.a. to help move these reforms forward. hiring new leaders has been frozen, vha leaders. to make sure the new team we are putting in place is the right one. based on the recommendations of our panel of experts, i will be nominating the next leader. i want to get the very best leader on the job and get going on these reforms and we're going to work with congress to make
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sure they have more of the doctors and resources they need to deliver the care veterans deserve. instituting a new culture of accountability. the very idea senior vha executives would receive doses this year rightly appalled many americans and those oses have already been canceled. underway to make sure when employees become a problem that action is taken, not to retaliate against the employee but fixed the problem. everyone is going to be held accountable for doing better and congress can help by giving the secretary more authority to remove senior leaders. finally, we are rebuilding our leadership team at the v.a.. and othershank sloan here who have stepped up to serve in new rules during this trickle time. , you have been an outstanding driving force in the reforms underway and we will be
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relying on your steady hand during this transition and through your continued service as deputy secretary. you will have an outstanding partner and secretary in my choice to lead the v.a. going forward. one of our nations most of him pushed his nose leaders and managers, robert mcdonald. i've gotten to know bob a bit over the years. yes come to the white house to share perspectives as we work through complicated issues. he is no-nonsense, pragmatic, he does not seek the limelight. he repeats the japanese saying -- he worked and lived in japan for six years while at procter & gamble. the saying goes he who climbs mount fuji is a wise man, he who climbs it twice is a fool. bob actually climbed mount fuji once. bob is a wise man. [laughter]
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if you need any more evidence that he is wise, you need to meet the and and his family who are here today. they are a wonderful family and they have served along with him in the past. family, thehis mission for caring for our veterans is deeply personal. his father served in the army air corps after world war ii. the and's father was a pow. her uncle was exposed to agent orange in vietnam and still receives treatment from the v.a.. this is not an abstract mission for them. bob is a veteran himself. he graduated from west point, where he and sloan were classmates, so this is a bit of a reunion. bob served as an army ranger in the 82nd airborne division. back home in cincinnati, he and the end teamed up with the uso to honor our veterans.
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what especially makes bob the right choice to lead the v.a. right now is his three decades of experience in building and managing one of the worlds's most recognized companies, procter & gamble. the v.a. is not a business, but it's one of our largest apartments. working,000 employees more than 700 abilities, serving nearly 9 million veterans. the workload at the aj alone is enormous. some 85 million appointments a year and some 25 million consultations. as ceo of procter & gamble, bob oversaw war than 120 thousand employees with operations around the world, selling products in more than 180 countries and more than 2 million stores reaching 5 billion customers all stop in iser words, he knows the key staying focused on the people you are trying to serve. he's renowned for his operational excellence and
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started his career in the field and worked his way up, serving at virtually every level of procter & gamble. he understands grand plans are not enough and what matters is the operations you put in place and getting the job done. expert at making organizations better. in his career, he's taken over struggling business units. you knows how to roll it has sleeves and get to work. putting an end to it doesn't work, adopting best practices that do, restructuring, introducing innovations in making operations more effect. in short, he is about delivering better results. he also knows the importance of opening a high-performance team, putting the right people in the right jobs, rewarding them when they do well, and holding them accountable when they don't. finally, bob is known for his integrity. he is still guided by the cadet prayer from west point -- choose
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the harder right into the easier wrong. he served our country in uniform and is now prepared to answer the call once more. say the obvious -- this is not going to be an easy assignment. knows that. but like any army airborne ranger, he has a reputation for being ready, jumping into tough situations, taking charge and going all the way. on behalf of all is to you, 2-d and and your family, think you for your readiness to serve again. -- we've line is this got tohange the way v.a. does business. years, thist five agency has done some excellent work in dealing with a whole range of difficult challenges. i don't want people to forget that. influx ofd a huge returning iraq and afghanistan veterans. manage what was a
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sure folkson to make who previously had difficulty accessing services were finally admitted, whether because it was they had ptsd or folks with cases of agent orange, all of which meant more people coming into the system. to get up and running and we are doing it quite effectively in terms of the post nine/11 g.i. bill to make sure our young people are able to get the training they need after they leave our military. so, across the board, there has been some terrific work. but there is a lot more that has to be done. we have got to fix some things that are broken and sloan started that process but we have to keep on driving that until we get done. we have to regain the trust of that israns with a v.a. more effective, more efficient,
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and that truly puts veterans first. bob is the manager we need to help us get this done, so i urge the senate to confirm him as soon as possible. i also urge the senate to finally confirm my naughty for nominee for assistant secretary for policy, linda schwartz, i nominee to lead the board of veterans appeals, constance tobias. they have all been waiting and waiting and waiting for a vote will stop -- for a vote. in the case of constance, for more than a year. we need them on the job now and congress needs to act and do right by our veterans. veterans to do right i like corporal kyle carpenter. some of you may have seen the story of kyle -- i recently had the privilege of presenting them with the medal of honor for his actions in afghanistan, where he used his a-day to shield his west front from a grenade last. kyle spent two and half years in the hospital.
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he endured nearly 40 surgeries to rebuild his body and his face and has gone through your shooting rehab. to see him standing in the white house, strong and proud, receiving his medal of honor, was something i will never forget. it was an inspiration. kyle is medically retired so part of his journey involved the v.a.. he's now in college and with the help of his educational benefits , it's an example of good work the v.a. has done. on the other hand, his experience with v.a. has often been frustrating. he said it was ok that i share this with you today, so i want to use kyle as an example. he is an american hero by any definition. sometimes we use that word too loosely. this guy is a hero. he deserves everything we can do will stop but like other veterans come a he sometimes had trouble just making an appointment or had to wait a
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month to see his doctor only to be referred to another doctor and wait another two months for that appointment will stop -- for that appointment. he said he felt like a number being passed between doctors and didn't know why he needed certain medication. each relied on help of a patient advocate, but with sony steps along the way, it has been a lot harder than it should have been. as his advocate said, it should not be this way. v.a. does many things well, like delivering kyle's educational benefits. to keep doing you that important work like reducing the disability claims backlog and improving care for post-traumatic stress and hermetic brain injury. work thatn the good has been done and reducing homelessness among veterans will stop helping veterans get their education under the post 9/11 g.i. bill and helping find new civilian jobs so they can enjoy the american dream they helped to defend.
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it's a good time to mention the work the v.a. has done with joe biden and michelle in partnering with the private sector so that transition from military to civilian life is a lot easier for our veterans. deliveringes to timely, quality health care, we have to do better. kyle,e to do better for we have to do better for all of our wounded warriors, we have to be better for all of our veterans, from all of our wars. they are looking for us to fulfill lincoln's pledge, to care for those who have borne the battle and for their families and survivors. thatconfident we can do and so long as i am president, we're going to do everything in our power to uphold what is a sacred obligation. with that, i want to invite bob using a few words. thank you for taking on this assignment. [applause]
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>> mr. president, thank you in your confidence that this nomination demonstrates. it would indeed be an honor and privilege of concert -- if sir -- if confirmed by the senate and serve as secretary of veterans affairs, to improve the lives of our country's veterans and change the u.s. department of veterans affairs does business. remarksident, and your just now, you made it clear what you expect -- a v.a. that is more effective, more efficient, and that truly puts our veterans first. if confirmed by the senate, my priority would be to lead that transformation. my life's purpose has been to improve the lives of others. i went to west point to be an officer in the army to try to help free people who were living
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in nonfree societies. i became an airborne ranger infantry officer because i wanted to be on the front line leading that change. i joined the procter & gamble company 34 years ago because of its purpose, which is to improve the lives of the world's consumers. president, thank you for mentioning my father, dn's father and uncle -- for our family, taking care of our veterans is very important. we need to care for the veteran at the center of everything we do of veterans affairs. at procter & gamble, we always focused on our customer. at the v.a., the veteran is our customer and we must all focus all day, every day on getting them the benefits and care that they have so earned. that is the only reason we are here. i look forward to working with the dedicated men and women of
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veterans affairs to accomplish this mission. thank my family for supporting me throughout my life, especially during this next chapter. my wife, my daughter, my son-in-law, and my son are all here today. s and dn -- and deann's mother cannot be here. thank you, mr. president, i look forward to transferring veterans affairs to better serve our veterans. [applause] >> the chairman of the house veterans committee released a statement saying if confirmed by
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the senate, robert mcdonald will inherit a department of veterans affairs under a specter of corruption that may well surpass anything in the history of american government. can set way mcdonald the department of for long-term success is the opposite approach of other v.a. leaders. that means focusing on solving problems and sitdown playing or hiding them. accountableoyees for negligence arms veterans and understanding taxpayer-funded organizations have a responsibility to provide information to congress and the public rather than stonewalling them. the e-cigarette industry has caught the attention of congress and federal regulars. this evening, c-span will show portions of two recent hearings into possible regulations of the industry. the senate commerce committee chair, jay rockefeller, retailerse-cigarette are targeting children.
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>> i think this whole thing is than it is all about the money. --hink is an creative uncreative, nasty, it's like pornography in my mind. depict the between one and the other. in fact, what you are doing is more dangerous to stop -- is more dangerous. i am ashamed a view. i don't know how you sleep at night. i don't know what get you to work in the morning except the color green of dollars. i have never said anything like that before, but i have never in my 30 years on this committee have i ever heard testimony such siriven by you, and by you, -- i want to send you to the middle east because you say we could get good people together
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and settle everything. you should go to the middle east and sell that, then come back and talk to us more realistically. but for you to, you are what is wrong with this country. motive is good, but only if it is aimed at something which is for the general benefit of the public and that can be stretched a little bit, because the public likes to be entertained. professional basketball is necessary for the existence of democracy in america, but people like it, so let's go ahead. but in your case, you do not have that leeway. it's simply a matter of the dollars, the money you rake in, the 250 six percent increase in two years in advertising, and you say it's only for the adult and not the children, when everything else that has come out of this hearing says otherwise.
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i think it is dreadful. >> at the same hearings, republican members said regulars should be mindful of the e-cigarette potential as a smoking cessation tool. this evening, we will explore proposed fda regulations and take your phone calls and comments on facebook and twitter. that starts at 7:00 eastern here on c-span. broadcast tv and then cable came along and then satellite. what if satellite had said we are different than cable? we are a slightly different technology, so we're going to take that and not consider ourselves to be what is called an m.v.p. d. we don't have to negotiate. satellite did not do that. eo come up with that and say we should not have to negotiate for copyrighted material. this is not about being opposed to technology.
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there's technology and maybe there is a business model for it, but that does not mean you can evade the law to run a business will stop was more about the supreme court decision eo with the head of the association of webcasters, on "the communicators" on c-span2. >> a tv set down with hillary clinton little rock to discuss her newest book, "hard choices." >> i learned, i've learned before, but certainly as secretary of state, to expect the unexpected. nobody expected the arab spring until it was upon us will stop -- until it was upon us. we need to learn to be agile and ready for the unexpected. while we try to build the world we want, especially for our children and now for my future grandchild, but we've got to be aware of the fact that all these other countries, all these
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billions of people, they are making hard choices every single day and we have to be ready for that. i am absolutely convinced we have to continue to lead the world into the kind of future that we want. we cannot sit on the sidelines, we cannot retreat, we're going to have setbacks and disappointments, but over time, thestory has become dominant story. it represents the hopes and aspirations of people everywhere. americans toi want understand and the main reason i wrote this book -- i know there's a big debate going on about our role in the world and we have some real unfortunate consequences still to deal with from prior decisions on the like. but we cannot abdicate our responsibilities. how we define it, how we executed will be the stuff of political debate, but the world needs us will stop america
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matters to the world and yes, the world matters to america for our prosperity and security and our democracy. >> hillary clinton spoke with us about her decision-making process, the perceptions of the night from the globe, and some of the decisions she had to make as a country estate. the full interview airs on book tv, saturday, july 5 at 7:00 eastern and sunday, july 6, at 9:15 eastern. fivee supreme court ruled to 42 data closely held corporations cannot be required to provide contraceptive coverage. a closely held corporation is a company that has only a limited number of shareholders -- usually five or fewer. the court in its decision held the government failed to show the contraceptive mandate and health care law is the least restrictive means of advancing its interests in guaranteeing cost free access to birth control. the court also says the ruling does not provide a shield for
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employers to my cloak legal discrimination as a religious practice. we will show you the oral arguments in the case now that took place in march. this is about an hour and half. >> we will hear argument this morning and consolidated k should -- consolidated case secretaryn 54 -- sibelius versus hobby lobby stores. >> when a federal government agency compelled employers to provide something as religiously sensitive as contraception, it means free exercise of claims would soon follow. in particular, the agency -- the agency itself provided -- >> issuer claim limited to sensitive materials like contraceptives or does it include items like blood
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, for somens, vaccines religions, products made of pork? is any claim under your >> verse that's the first step will be deceived there will be a verse. i think this case would be easier than most of the examples you have brought up because here is one that is so religiously sensitive, with religious controversy, the agency provided certain numbers of accommodations. that is one way you can address the first step of the question. >> just take one of the things that justice sotomayor said. there are many people that have religious objections. does andn employer refuses to fund or wants not to fund vaccinations for her
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employees, what happens then? >> assuming we get past the substantial burden, the next steps would be analysis. . >> every medical treatment and htstice sotomayor is rig that there are number of treatment that religious groups object to. group opts out and everything would be piecemeal and nothing would be uniform. >> nothing can be clear that when congress passed, congress
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made a judgment that it was going to apply to all manner of federal statutes. >> maybe it seemed clear then. congress has continued to write in to federal legislation specific religious exemptions for some but not everybody. for individuals, sometimes religious institutions. -- whys all right here did congress continue to pass these laws focusing the exemption on the individual? as i take your arguments, those are the laws and/or more than half a dozen which were unnecessary. congress did not have to do that
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anymore. >> i am not sure if they were all unnecessary. on a beltay proceed and suspenders manner. when congresss passed it which it was done i think the answer to that was no. i think the question that justin kagan's question brought up is was congress evident and big -- did congress say it would apply to all provisions of the 18 -- all the provisions? congress could not have been clear that it was passing the statute that it wanted to apply to all pre-existing statutes and all subsequent statutes. >> you are giving us a framework for your argument. do i think of this as a statutory case? of course. the first amendment is on the stage.
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but, i take and you can prevail on the question of statutory interpretation. if that is so, are there any statutory rules? >> my other client is a free exercise claim and that is live in the lower courts so those issues are preserved. i think this court can decide this on the basis of the federal statute and the principles of constitutional avoidance. up it seems like it would be fully applicable to the court's consideration of the question. normal principles of statutory construction would certainly point you to the answer to the first of jackson -- objection which is due persons include for-profit corporations. >> this is a statute that specifically defers back to a
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body of constitutional law. it basically says we want to get back to the place we were respect to religious claims before employment is met. directs ustue that to a body of constitutional law. that constitutional law is very different know what you perpetrate that that super trader brief. balance ofct to a analysis not to a compelling interest standard in the way we would use it for, say, race discrimination. so, you know, what's the response to that? >> well, first, justice kagan, let me take a little bit of an issue with your premise and let me try to responsive to your question anyways after i do that. how i'd like to take issue with your premise is that when congress first passed the statute rfra, it talked about free exercise as defined in the court's cases. and then at the time that it passed rluipa, which is a later statute, it actually confronted
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some lower court cases that had limited rfra and tried to impose a centrality requirement. and congress didn't want that. it didn't want to take all the baggage of the pre-smith free exercise cases. so it actually amended the statute to broaden it so it now protects any exercise of religion. so i would take issue with your premise that rfra simply picks up everything that ever happened pre-smith. >> well, there there's another respect in which this, even as originally enacted, does not track the preemployment division v. smith law. that is to say, the compelling state interest test in the prior cases was never accompanied by a least restrictive alternative requirement. that was an invention of this of this law. >> i think that's fair, justice scalia. one of the things that you run into if you try to sort of get at this statute the way that justice kagan is suggesting is that not everybody exactly agreed as to what the pre-smith case law was.
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you described the pre-smith case law in your opinion in a certain way. justice o'connor described the pre-smith case law in another way. so it's a little bit difficult to try to say, as justice kagan's question would suggest, that rather than just apply the statute as written, we should really sort of just go back and apply pre-smith laws if this were -- >> well, it is applying the statute as written. the statute as written this not a question of legislative history the statute as written points back to pre-smith law. it says -- that's what we mean. >> well, you're right, justice kagan, in the purpose part of the statute it says -- what we mean to do here is basically restore the pre-smith law. but it also accompanies that purpose statute with operative language. and the operative language, which i think this court should apply, as justice scalia suggests, applies broadly to any exercise of religion by any person and then suggests that the relevant test is substantial burden with the burden on my client as to the substantial burden part of the test.
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and then it's -- >> mr. clement, this was a law that was passed overwhelmingly, both houses of congress. people from all sides of the political spectrum voted for it. it seems strange that there would have been that tremendous uniformity if it means what you said it means, to take to cover profit corporations, especially in light of there was an effort to adopt a conscience amendment, a specific conscience amendment in 2012, and the senate rejected that. that that amendment would have enabled secular employers and insurance providers to deny coverage on the basis of religious beliefs or moral convictions. it was specifically geared to secular employers and insurance providers.
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and that that was rejected. >> well, justice ginsburg, i would suggest to the contrary. the reason that there was such unanimity behind rfra in the first place is that efforts to limit to just certain subclasses, subsets of religious freedom claims, were rejected and sort of everybody in congress got together and said, all right, you have some claims you actually want to be vindicated, you have some claims you want to be vindicated, we'll vindicate all of them. and if we're going to look at any legislative history as shedding light on this, then i would suggest you look at professor laycock's brief, which goes into great detail about the legislative debates involved in that led up ultimately to the passage of rluipa. and when congress was trying to pass a broader statute, the rlpa, the religious liberty protection act, the issue of the statute's application and rfra's application to for-profit corporations was squarely put at issue by the nadler amendment. and that amendment was rejected and the house report that demonstrates the rejection of that amendment could not be clearer that they understood that for-profit corporations would be covered.
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now, in fairness, what they understood is that we were probably talking about in the real world a relatively small set of corporations like an incorporated kosher market or kosher deli of the kind that this court had before it in the crown kosher case. and so i think it's you know, we can talk about the extent and how you'd apply these principles to exxon, but i think that's just something that's not going to happen in the real world. it is no accident that the claims that you have before you in these cases are brought by small closely held corporations that have firmly held religious beliefs. >> but, again, mr. clement as justice ginsburg said, this was a very uncontroversial law. your understanding of this law, your interpretation of it, would essentially subject the entire u.s. code to the highest test in constitutional law, to a compelling interest standard. so another employer comes in and that employer says, i have a religious objection to sex discrimination laws; and then another employer comes in, i have a religious objection to minimum wage laws; and then another, family leave; and then
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another, child labor laws. and all of that is subject to the exact same test which you say is this unbelievably high test, the compelling interest standard with the least restrictive alternative. >> well, i don't say that. i think congress said that. but to be as responsive as i can to your question, the parade of horribles that the government offers you ought to sound familiar, because if you look at that parade of horribles social security, minimum wage, discrimination laws, compelled vaccination every item on that list was included in justice scalia's opinion for the court in smith. and justice o'connor responded to that in her separate opinion and she said, look, you've got to trust the courts; just because free exercise claims are being brought doesn't mean that the courts can't separate the sheep from the goats. now, whatever -- >> well, she had an understanding of how the court worked pre-smith that was a kind of sherbert v. verner yoder understanding, which was we did a balancing, we looked at the
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government's interests, we took those very seriously, especially to the extent that there was harm to identifiable third parties and that it fell on an identifiable third party. that was basically you could not get an accommodation for that kind of harm. >> well, what she said and whatever the merits of it as a matter of constitutional debate isn't relevant. what i think is relevant is that congress clearly preferred one side of that debate and thought courts could handle this. so then the question becomes -- how do courts actually apply this test? and i don't think applying the test to recognize this case, where i think the government has an incredibly weak case on compelling interest and least restrictive alternatives, which they almost don't want to talk about at all, is going to endanger any other statutes. and if i could talk about specific -- >> well, could i ask you this, mr. clement. in all the years since rfra has been on the books, has any of these claims involving minimum wage, for example, been brought and have they succeeded? >> justice alito, very few of these claims have been brought. very few of them have succeeded,
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and that's notwithstanding the fact that all of these statutes we're talking about apply to employers generally. and it and none of those claims have been brought or they haven't succeeded notwithstanding the fact that the government concedes that sole proprietorships and partnerships and nonprofit corporations are all protected by rfra. now, millions of americans are employed by proprietorships, partnerships, and nonprofits. so if these statutes really were on a collision course, i think we would have seen the collision already. >> well, with respect, mr. clement, i think that that's probably because the court has had a different understanding of what rfra does and the kind of analysis that it requires courts to perform than you're arguing for in this case. that if your argument were adopted and there was a strict scrutiny standard of the kind that usually applies and a least restrictive alternative requirement, then you would see religious objectors come out of the woodwork with respect to all of these laws.
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and because you say that there and i think this absolutely right when you say it that you cannot test the centrality of a belief to a religion, you cannot test the sincerity of religion. i think a court would be, you know their hands would be bound when faced with all these challenges if your standard applies. >> well, justice kagan, a couple of thoughts. first of all, i mean, it's not like this court has never had a rfra case that it applied the standard on the merits. and in the o centro case, this court applied something that very much felt to the government at the time as being strict scrutiny. but if this court -- >> well, it was a religious organization. >> it certainly was a religious organization and it's a separate question as -- >> this what's different. i mean, all along the earlier cases dealt with individuals and they dealt with religious institutions. >> well, if i may, justice ginsburg, there's two separate questions. there's a question about how to apply the test if it's applicable in a particular case, and i think o centro is the starting place for guidance on
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that. your question also brings up the separate question about the coverage of the statute. and as to that, i think the place to start is the statute itself, which broadly provides coverages to persons. that is not an incidental term. it's a term that picks up additional context through the dictionary act and specifically applies to all corporations, to joint partnerships, to societies. >> how does a corporation exercise religion? i mean, i know how it speaks and we have, according to our jurisprudence, 200 years of corporations speaking in its own interests. but where are the cases that show that a corporation exercises religion? >> well, justice sotomayor, those cases i mean, i'd start with cases like lukumi or o centro, which all involved corporations, and nobody thought it was particularly problematic there that the plaintiffs before the court were artificial entities. and i suppose you could take -- >> well, but they were really
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arguing about things that affected their membership, not them as a corporate entity. >> well, i'm not sure that you can so easily divide the two, and we can talk about how it is with corporations generally. you understand how the corporation has certain beliefs or -- a scienter requirement. the courts every day deal with issues of trying to figure out what kind of intent or motivation a corporate entity has. >> so the dissent in this case, in the tenth circuit case, said how do we determine when a corporation has that belief? who says it? the majority of shareholders? the corpb-ate officers? the -- is it 51%? what happens to the minority? and how much of the business has to be dedicated to religion? 5%? 10%? 90%? just assume not a business like
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yours you picked great plaintiffs, but let's assume -- >> let's assume just a business that sells 5% of religious books, doesn't play christmas music, doesn't give off works on sunday, you know, does nothing else religiously. >> right. and, justice sotomayor, i think the way to approach those cases would be the same basic way you approach other questions of corporate intent or corporate motivation. you look to the governance doctrines, if any of this put at issue. and i think that's really a critical question, which is ultimately, i think this line of questioning goes to a question of sincerity, and if some large corporation asserts some claim that's going to save them lots of money, i would think that the government in those kind of cases is really going to resist the sincerity piece of the analysis. in this kind of case -- >> that's the most dangerous piece. that's the one we've resisted in all our exercise jurisprudence,
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to measure the depth of someone's religious beliefs. >> to be clear, this court's cases have always distinguished between the sincerity inquiry, which the court has allowed, and the centrality inquiry, which it suggested is inappropriate. but sincerity has always been a part of this court's cases. >> i thought more importantly was whether a burden was substantial or not. that we've never acceded to the person claiming a religious exemption, a belief in how substantial the burden might be. >> right. this court has not questioned that. the thomas case, i think, puts as common ground the idea that you don't really second-guess the person's the person's belief, but you can contest sincerity. it is there is case law in this. you know, you have people who are arrested in possession of large quantities of marijuana and they assert that they belong to the church of marijuana, and those cases do get litigated and they get rejected. and there's a lot of different ways to -- >> is there is there a different way of looking at it, the leeway?
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in u.s. v. lee, we said, "when followers of a particular sect enter into a commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity." so isn't that really the answer, that we've never considered a for-profit corporation as exercising religion? >> well, let me let me take on lee first. and i mean, that's obviously the two lines of lee that are the government's favorite two lines in lee. but lee starts with a substantial burden inquiry, which is where most of these sincerity questions go. and lee definitely says that there is a sincere religious belief and a substantial burden on religious exercise. so the two sentences that you're quoting come in the compelling
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interest analysis of the case. and i think lee does stand for the proposition that in the tax context, it's going to be very hard for somebody to bring a claim that satisfies even the demanding compelling interest, least restrictive alternative test. >> well, that's an interesting question, because the briefs on both sides here are written as if the penalty for not having a health insurance policy that covers contraceptives is at issue. but isn't there another choice nobody talks about, which is paying the tax, which is a lot less than a penalty and a lot less than the cost of health insurance at all? these employers could choose not to give health insurance and pay not that high a penalty, not that high a tax. >> well, just to put this in concrete terms, for hobby lobby, for example, the choice is between paying $475 million per year penalty and paying a $26 million per year coverage. >> no, i don't think that that's the same thing, mr. clement. there's one penalty that is if the employer continues to provide health insurance without this part of the coverage, but
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hobby lobby could choose not to provide health insurance at all. and in that case hobby lobby would pay $2,000 per employee, which is less than hobby lobby probably pays to provide insurance to its employees. so there is a choice here. it's not even a penalty by in the language of the statute. it's a payment or a tax. there's a choice. and so the question is, why is there a substantial burden at all? >> well, just to be clear, we were talking about the same thing. so the option, the choice, is between paying a $475 million a year penalty and a $26 million a year penalty. that's what hobby lobby faces. so $2,000 per person -- >> no, between paying $2,000 per employee per year if hobby lobby does not provide -- >> that's $26 million. >> you know, hobby lobby is paying something right now for the for the coverage. it's less than what hobby lobby is paying for the coverage. there are employers all over the
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united states that are doing this voluntarily because they think that it's less. >> i thought i thought that part of the religious commitment of the owners was to provide health care for its employees. >> that is true, mr. chief justice. it is also true that this -- >> well, if they want to do that, they can just pay a greater salary and let the employees go in on the exchange. >> exactly, which is, by the way, why comparing the $2,000 penalty to the cost of the health care is a false it's a false comparison. >> it's not called a penalty. it's called a tax. and it's calibrated and it's calibrated >> she's right about that. >> and it has been treated for some purposes as a penalty. and i think for this purposes, it certainly feels punitive. and if i could finish the thought about why it's a false comparison, the 2,000 penalty to the cost of the health insurance, is that it's going to very much hurt hobby lobby if all of the sudden it doesn't provide health care to its employees. and in order to compensate for that, it would have to increase
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the wages. and i think it would be worse off as a result of this. but if i could also -- >> well, let's say that that's right. let's say that they have to increase the wages a little bit. i mean, still we are talking about pretty equivalent numbers. maybe it's a little bit less; maybe it's a little bit more. but this not the kind of thing that's going to drive a person out of business. it's not prohibitive. it's like the thing that we talked about in braunfeld where we said, you know, maybe if the store can't stay open 7 days a week, it makes a little bit less money. but so be it, is what we said. >> no, i actually think what it's like, your honor, with all due respect, it's like the five dollar penalty enforcing the prohibition in yoder. and what this court says, it's one thing if you don't have a direct government prohibition on a religious exercise or a mandate that somebody do something that violates their religion. in those cases, which is like sherbert and is like braunfeld, then you have to look at the substantial pressure, and it becomes a little bit more of a loosey-goosey analysis. but when you have a government
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law that specifically says you must do something that violates your religion and it's enforced with a penalty, and with all due respect i think $2,000 per employee is a penalty. >> but mr. clement, it's not saying you must do something that violates your religion. it's giving you a choice. you can do this thing or if this thing violates your religion you can do another thing. and that other thing is approximately the same price as the thing that you don't want to do. >> i don't think it would be the same price at the end of the day. i'd also like to point out how this -- >> well, of course it wouldn't be the same price at the end of the day. if they deny health insurance, they're going to have to raise wages if they are going to get employees. >> absolutely. >> it's absurd to say that, you know, it comes out of nowhere. >> absolutely, your honor. and by the way, this $2,000 penalty is very much a double-edged sword for the government, because you're trying to -- >> but why is that a problem? let's assume that the cost of providing insurance is roughly equivalent to the $2,000 penalty. how is the employer hurt?
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he can just raise the wages. >> may i just put a footnote on this. i thought the average price of providing insurance for a single person is $4,000, and it's $12,000 for a family for a family. so the 2,000 tax that's what it's called is to help the government provide subsidies to people on the exchange that don't have employer insurance. so it's a tax because it's it is to do exactly what your client wants, to get the government to supply the contraceptives, not the insurance companies. >> here's the problem with this way of looking at it, which is to say whatever it costs per employee to get this, this health care, that's something that right now hobby lobby is paying whatever it's paying them, plus it's, you know, imputed into that is the idea that they're getting their wage and they're getting health care
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insurance. if they take away the health care insurance, they are going to have to increase the wages to make up for that. and they're going to have to pay the $2,000 penalty on top of it, plus they're going to have to violate their own interest which is, we actually we believe it's important to provide our employees with qualified health care. >> ok, the last is important. but just assume hypothetically that it's a wash, that the employer would be in about the same position if he paid the penalty and the employer -- pardon me, an employee went out and got the insurance and that the employee's wages were raised slightly and then it's and that it's a wash so far as the employer are concerned, other than the employer's religious objection, but just on the financial standpoint. can we assume that as a hypothetical. then what would your case be? >> i think my case would be that in that case the government might be able to sort of support itself on the compelling interest. i think there would still be a substantial burden on their exercise. but again, this all turns on
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issues that the government hasn't put in issue. this case hasn't been litigated on this particular theory, so i think i'd love to have the opportunity to show how by not providing health insurance it would have a huge burden on my client and their ability to attract workers, and that in fact would cost them much more out of pocket. but that's not been the nature of the government's theory. >> can i ask -- >> there was a point made earlier, and i think you didn't mean to say this, that provision of health care is not part of their religious belief. covering their employees for health care, that is not a religious tenet, right? >> no, it actually is. again, it hasn't been the principal theory on which this case has been litigated. but see, if you go back to the complaints and you go back to our briefs, you know, it's part of the religious beliefs that both the hahns and the greens have. they think it's actually important -- >> but, mr. clement, you're not saying, are you, that their religious beliefs mandate them to provide health care? i thought that you were never making that claim. >> i didn't have to make that claim in the course of this litigation. what i'm pointing out, though, is for purposes of the
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substantial burden analysis, it is perfectly appropriate to take into account that the 2,000 the $26 million in fines they would pay would not be the only thing that they would lose out if they are on that horn of the dilemma. they would also lose out all the additional wages they would have to pay, and they would be in this position of not offering health care, which is something they believe is important for their religion as well. >> you know, i'm sure they seem like very good employers. and i'm sure they want to be good employers. but again, that's a different thing than saying that their religious beliefs mandate them to provide health insurance, because here congress has said that the health insurance that they're providing is not adequate, it's not the full package. >> well, with respect, what congress has said is that this kind of plan is not appropriate for a non-grandfathered plan. but if we're going to talk about the government's compelling interests here, which i think has got to be part of the analysis, then i think the grandfathered provisions of this statute really are devastating for the government's argument that it has a compelling
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interest. when the government pursues compelling interest, it demands immediate compliance. it doesn't say, "get around to it whenever it's convenient." i can't imagine congress passing title vii and saying, "stop discriminating on the basis of race, unless of course you have a preexisting policy that discriminates on the basis of race, and then you can keep it as long as you'd like." it is fundamentally inconsistent with a compelling interest -- >> well, but i think even -- >> analysis to have this kind of grandfathering. >> that example, you know, initially title vii did not apply to any employers with fewer than 25 employees. and then gradually, congress brought the number down because congress realized that there were going to be transition issues and that some time was needed to make sure that the compelling interest, you know, should be applied uniformly across all employers. >> here's, respectfully, why i don't think that that works, which is i think the question whenever there are exemptions in the statute is to ask yourself, do the exemptions undermine the compelling interest that the government asserts. there's nothing inconsistent with an interest in prohibiting employment discrimination to say we're going to focus on the
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people who actually employ the most people and therefore can engage in the most discrimination. it's quite a different matter, title vii that said, "hey, as long as you have a preexisting discriminatory policy, you're allowed to keep it." that doesn't seem like it would be consistent. >> counsel, your attorney one of the attorneys below on behalf of your clients admitted that the grandfathered policies weren't going to be around very long because any change to an existing policy -- and he said these changes happen on a yearly basis. and we already know from the government's statistics that it's up to 40% now have grandfathered out. your own client changed its policy, and that's why it's not grandfathered. and he changed it to drop contraceptives it was covering. >> well --
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>> and so my point is, since when does a transitioned grandfathered exemption and one that everybody knows will have to change, because premiums by definition will change or copays will change, something is going to change it's a very short transition period. since when does that prove that the need is not compelling? >> with all due respect, it's not necessarily a very short transition period. and your references to copays and premiums is precisely on point, because the government, through its regulations, has allowed grandfathered plans to make changes to the copays as long as they're indexed to medical inflation. now, if you have a transition period that's just there for a nanosecond, you don't bother indexing it to medical inflation. so this a grandfather provision that's going to be around for multiple years. and by the government's own numbers, tens of millions of employees are not getting this mandated coverage as a result of the grandfather provision.
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and even if we can project forward ten years to when maybe there would only be a handful of grandfathered plans, even at that point, you would still have the same problem that the government would have, which is it has to make an argument for a compelling interest. >> just before your time starts to go too fast, how would you suggest that we think about the position and the rights of the of the employees? and you can have hypotheticals about the employer makes them wants to make them wear burkas and so forth. that's not in this case. but in a way, the employees are in a position where the government, through its health care plans, is, under your view, is allowing the employer to put the employee in a disadvantageous position. the employee may not agree with these religious beliefs of the employer.
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do the religious beliefs just trump? is that the way it works? >> well, no, it's not just the way it works, justice kennedy. and i actually have four things i'd like to say about that, if it's possible. one is, i think the first thing about third-party burdens is you have to ask where are they coming from. and if the third-party burdens are coming from an employer i mean, an employer right now can put some burden on their rights because they have to listen to religious music or whatever. that's not as serious as a burden that's coming directly from the government. so that's one principle to think about. another principle, and this more of a detail, but i think it's important, is that to the extent you take into account third-party burdens, you take those into account in the compelling interest part of the analysis. the government has an argument that somehow third-party interests go into the substantial burden part of the analysis, where we bear the burden. and we don't think that's right at all. the third-party -- >> but, mr. clement, you made the analogy to rluipa. and the one thing that has not been mentioned up till now is the establishment clause. the court was very clear when it came to rluipa, which you said is similar to rfra, that the
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accommodation must be measured so it doesn't override other significant interests. and that was true of sherbert and that was true of yoder. the -- and the cutter case, and this court made it very clear, that the accommodation has to be balanced and you have to take into account other significant interests. >> right. but that actually brings me to my third point, which is those other significant interests that carry the most weight have to be independent of the very statute that's at issue in the case and that the party seeks an exemption from. so if you think about the caldor case, there the court was concerned with the third-party burdens on, say, an employee who had a seniority right to take the weekends off. so he or she had an independent right to take the weekend off, and the government policy was coming in and displacing this. >> i'm not sure that squares with lee. the statute created the right to
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social security, and there the court said you can't deprive employees of a statutory right because of your religious beliefs. so lee is contrary to the point you're making. >> there, too, i have to respectfully disagree, because if you remember the facts of lee, lee is brought not just by the employer, but by the employee. so the particular employees there don't have a beef with what he's doing at all. and i think when they're talking about third-party burdens there, what the court is really talking about is the burdens of everybody else who contributes into a system where uniformity, to use the court's words, was indispensable. and so if i could, though, i think, just to illustrate why it's sort of double counting to count the mandated issue here as being what gives the burden to the third party or the benefit on the third party. imagine two hypotheticals. one is congress passes a statute and says i have to destroy all of my books, including my bibles. another statute, congress comes in and says i have to give all of my books, including all of my bibles, to you.
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now, in the second case, i suppose you could say that a rfra claim somehow gets rid of your statutory entitlement to my bibles, but i don't think, since it's the very benefit that we're talking about that's at issue there, i don't think i think that really is double counting and i don't think those two hypothetical statutes should be analyzed any differently. the other thing, though, about burdens, and i think it should go this the fourth point that should go into the compelling interest test -- >> i mean, mr. clement, isn't that just a way of saying that you think that this isn't a good statute, because it asks one person to subsidize another person. but congress has made a judgment and congress has given a statutory entitlement and that entitlement is to women and includes contraceptive coverage. and when the employer says, no, i don't want to give that, that woman is quite directly, quite tangibly harmed. >> well, justice kagan, i think you could say the same thing about my bible hypothetical. but i do have one last thing to say about burdens. and i do think when you think about impacts on third parties, not all of these burdens are created equal.
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and that, too, i think is borne out in this court's cases. and the most relevant factor is, is there some alternative way for the government to ameliorate the burden. and i think about two types of, kind of accommodations, if you will. you get sort of title vii with a very narrow accommodation. and then you have conscience clauses that allow medical providers, including for-profit medical providers, not to provide abortions. now, each of those has a burden on third parties, but i would respectfully suggest they're different. in the case of the employee who's been subject to racial discrimination, even if they can get -- another job, that racial discrimination is a unique injury to them that you can't remedy unless you tell the employer, don't discriminate on the basis of race. now, in the context of the conscience clause, if a woman can't get an abortion from her preferred provider, that's surely a significant burden on her. but we don't view that as trumping the conscience clause, because she can get the abortion through another mechanism. here, as your question rightfully highlights, all we're really talking about is who's going to pay for a subsidy that the government prefers. this not about access to the
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contraception. it's about who's going to pay for the government's preferred subsidy. and i think in that context, there are ample alternative ways to address any burdens on third parties. and that goes right to the least -- >> it would make no difference if it were there are 20 fda-approved contraceptives, all of them covered by the healthcare act. >> i think -- >> you picked out, in one case what, three, and the other case four? suppose the employer says contraceptives all together are against my religion, so i'm not going to give any contraceptive coverage. >> well, obviously, justice ginsburg, i didn't pick these out. i mean, my clients and their religious beliefs identified these as problematic. there are certainly -- >> but your argument, it seems to me, would apply just as well if the employer said no contraceptives. >> i think that's a fair point, justice ginsburg, and the government's own accommodations, where they offer them to religious groups and religious employers like nonprofit
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hospitals, also applies to whatever the religious beliefs of that provider are. so if they extend to all 20, then the exemption's applied to all 20. if they only extend to four, then the exemption applies to all four. >> are there ways of accommodating the interests of the women who may want these particular drugs or devices without imposing a substantial burden on the employer who has the religious objection to it? >> there are ample less restrictive alternatives, your honor. >> what are they? >> and i think they all flow from this fact that this ultimately about who's going to pay for a substitute -- >> those are alternatives that you're asking the government to incur or the person to incur. there isn't an alternative that doesn't put a cost on someone else. >> well, it's funny about this particular mandate because the government's position is this actually a cost-free mandate, that whatever you pay out in contraceptions, you're going to make up in not having to pay for other coverages. and so one alternative, one less restrictive alternative is what's done in the accommodation for nonprofit employers like hospitals, where basically they tell the insurance carrier or
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the plan administer that you pick up the cost for this and then essentially it'll be cost neutral from you. but i don't think there's anything sort of sacrosanct, if you will, about having the government pay for its preferred subsidy as a less restrictive alternative. and that's essentially what the government does for those employees who have employers. if those employees -- if the employer doesn't provide health care, those employees go on to the exchanges with a subsidy from the government. and they can do the same thing for objecting religious employers. they just have chosen not to. if i may reserve my time. >> thank you, mr. clement. general verrilli? >> mr. chief justice, and may it please the court, the touchstone for resolving this case is the principle justice jackson articulated in prince v. massachusetts. as he said, "limitations which of necessity bound religious freedom begin to operate whenever activities begin to affect or collide with the liberties of others or of the public. adherence to that principle is what makes possible the
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harmonious functioning of a society like ours, in which people of every faith live and work side by side." >> that's a statement that is inconsistent with rfra, isn't it? the whole point of rfra is that congress wanted to provide exceptions for the religious views of particular -- including proprietors, individuals. >> no, mr. chief justice, i don't think so at all. in fact, the although i was of course, i was referring to justice jackson's words for their wisdom because it wasn't the opinion of the court. but see, jackson -- >> yeah. but the wisdom you cited is the idea that you don't have imposed, on the basis of religious beliefs, exemptions or limitations. and it seems to me that was the whole point of rfra, to tell the courts that that is exactly what you should do unless the exception satisfies the strict scrutiny test. >> well, but i think, well, unless it satisfies the
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pre-smith standards under the establishment clause. but i do think that the exact same point -- >> it's more than pre-smith. >> i take your point -- >> plus -- >> i take your point about less restrictive means, your honor. >> ok. >> but the exact same point that justice jackson made in prince, i submit, is the point that this court made unanimously in cutter. it's not it's that when you are analyzing what is required under rfra, the court must take account of the way in which the requested accommodation will affect the rights and interests of third parties. >> well, is it your argument that providing the accommodation that's requested here would violate the establishment clause? >> it's not our argument that it would violate the establishment clause. but it is our argument that you in any rfra case, including this one, you have to consider the impact on third parties, because otherwise, you will be skating on thin constitutional ice. and so justice kennedy, you asked about principles that that surround statutory construction.
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avoidance is one of them. and that was why the court unanimously in cutter said that in every rfra case when you're considering an accommodation, you have to weigh the effect on third parties. and that -- >> where is that in rfra? i mean, what factor of rfra do you fold that in under? is that part of the compelling state interest requirement or substantial burden requirement? where is it in rfra? >> i'd like i think the answer is that it could inform every operative provision in rfra. we have said that it should inform the court's interpretation of who counts as a person. >> if they wanted you to balance the interest of the religious objector against the interest of other individuals, they made no reference to that in rfra at all. >> well, i -- >> they said unless the government has a compelling state interest. >> and the compelling and certainly compelling interest analysis certainly does require
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consideration of the interests of third parties. of course, what the court what the congress said in rfra, in explaining how the compelling interest test was to work, was that it was to strike a sensible balance between claims for religious liberty and governmental interests. and, of course, lee is one of the pre-smith cases that provides the governing law. and i would submit is really the only case from this court in which the request for an exemption under the free exercise clause had the effect of extinguishing a statutorily guaranteed benefit. because in lee, had the employer gotten the exemption from providing social security, the consequence would have been that the employees would have been disqualified from receiving social security benefits. >> but that wasn't the basis for denying the claim. the basis was that the government has to run a uniform system that applies to everybody. >> i disagree. >> and you can't argue that here because the government has made a lot of exemptions.
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>> i first of all, i disagree with respect to lee, that one of the points that the court made in lee was that granting the exemption from social security taxes to an employer operates to impose the employer's religious faith on the employees. it was one of the grounds of decision. now but turning to i would like to address these exemptions. i'm happy to talk about them. i'm happy to talk about our compelling interest at length. the now, the my -- >> well, if you could start with the question of whether the companies in this case have a right to bring rfra claims because they're for-profit corporations. you argue that they can't. >> that's correct. >> now, why is that? is it -- is it your position that there's something about the corporate form per se that is inconsistent with the free exercise claim? >> no, because, obviously, churches can bring claims. >> all right. but is it your argument that there's something about engaging in a for-profit activity that is inconsistent with a free exercise claim? >> yes. and if i could walk through the
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let me, if you don't mind, just walk through the analysis on -- >> well, were the merchants in the braunfeld case engaged in for-profit activity? >> yes. >> so there isn't anything inherent in -- >> but i think -- >> in participating in a for-profit activity that's inconsistent with corporate form, is there? i'm sorry, with a free exercise claim. >> yes. but i think the relevant question is what did congress think it was doing when it enacted rfra in 1993? what kinds of claims did it think it was -- >> well, what is it about -- >> justifying? >> a for-profit corporation that is inconsistent with a free exercise claim? do you agree with the proposition that was endorsed by one of the lower courts in this case, that for-profit corporations must do nothing but maximize profits, they cannot have other aims -- >> no, not -- >> including religious aims? >> no. but here's how we look at it. at its core -- >> i'm sorry, general. you answered yes to braunfeld. it was jewish merchants, but it was the merchants themselves -- >> individuals. the individuals, yes. not the corporation that was going to be jailed. it was a -- >> yes, that's right. >> criminal prosecution.
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>> i understood justice alito to be asking me not about the corporate form, but about the activity. and when you have an individual, you have an individual. it's a person. >> so whether it was a merchant that was a corporation or not was irrelevant. it was that the individual was -- >> that's -- >> going to be jailed. >> that's correct. >> it was an individual making a profit, right? >> certainly. >> he was running a business for a profit, and that was the point of justice alito's question, right, which i think you understood. >> and i did try to answer it, yes. but i but let me say, i think the relevant question here is what did congress think it was doing in 1993? and i think the answer to that has to be in, you know, we understand the dictionary act provides a broad definition of person, but the dictionary act doesn't define exercise religion. and the operative statutory language is exercise person's exercise of religion. and so you can't look to the dictionary act to define that. but congress told you where to look. it told you to look to the pre-smith case law -- >> and why did it tell -- >> to define that. >> why did it say that? it changed the definition at the time when rluipa was adopted, did it not, to eliminate the
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reference to the first amendment, isn't that right? >> yes, but it but the difference there was to say it didn't want courts to get involved in the entangling enterprise of deciding what was central belief versus what was -- >> well, it says free exercise. and didn't it also adopt a provision in rluipa saying that that the exercise of religion was to be interpreted in the broadest possible way? >> well, i think it said something more precise than that, which was that it was to be interpreted not to be confined only to central religious tenets. >> no. didn't it say didn't it say the term "religious exercise" includes any exercise -- >> yes, includes any exercise of religion, but it doesn't define what that is. it just says you don't draw a line between centrality and something that may -- >> no. but there is another provision that says that, "this chapter shall be construed in favor of a broad protection of religious exercise to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of this chapter and the constitution." >> right. and it but with respect to what exercise religion means, it said don't draw les centrality and noncentrality.
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it didn't go beyond that and tell you what it means. and what rfra tells you to look to is pre-smith case law. and in the entire history of this country, there is not a single case in which a for-profit corporation was granted an exemption on -- >> not a single case in which it was denied exemption, either. all you're saying is -- >> well, lee -- >> that there are no cases. >> well, lee was certainly a case in which a for-profit enterprise was denied an exemption. braunfeld was such a case. gallagher was such a case. >> not on the ground that it was a for-profit enterprise. there is not a single case which says that a for-profit enterprise cannot make a freedom of religion claim, is there? >> right. there is not a single case -- >> right. >> holding that. except that in lee, it was critical to the court's analysis that mr. lee and his business had chosen to enter the commercial sphere. >> isn't that a merits question, general? i mean, i totally understand that argument as an argument
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about the merits. i'm not sure i understand it as a threshold claim that this that the claim is not recognizable at all. >> right. well, let me i do want to move to the compelling interest analysis, but if i could make one point in response to your honor's question, that the court's got to decide what person -- a person's exercise of religion means. and that it seems to me that it would be such a vast expansion of what congress must could have thought it was doing in 1993, when it enacted rfra, to say that for-profit corporations can make claims for religious exemptions to any laws of general application that they want to challenge. i do you know, mr. clement says, well, you don't have to worry about anything other than small, tightly knit corporations like the one at issue here. i take the point of the appeal of a situation like this one. but the way in which he suggests that you will be able to distinguish this case from a case in which a large corporation comes in or a public company comes in, is that you will have more grounds to question the sincerity of the claim. but that raises exactly the
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kinds of entanglement concerns that this court has always said you should try to avoid. >> well, that's his argument for distinguishing it. but there are others, including the fact that it is more you avoid all of the problems with what to do if it's a, you know, there's a 51% ownership of the shareholders, if you simply say that it's in this type of chapter s corporation that is closely held. whether it applies in the other situations is a question that we'll have to await another case when a large publicly traded corporation comes in and says, we have religious principles, the sort of situation, i don't think, is going to happen. >> but even with respect to these companies, your honor, what are you going to do if there's a dispute between let's say there are three shareholders a dispute between two in the majority and one in the minority? you're going to have to get yourself involved the courts will have to get themselves involved in all kinds of -- >> whoever controls the corporation. whoever controls the corporation determines what the party -- >> and then and the minority shareholder will say, well, this under state law, this an act of oppression and this -- >> well, that's a question of state corporate law. it's not a question of who can
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bring an action under rfra. could i just raise eight courts of appeals, every court of appeal to have looked at the situation have held that corporations can bring racial discrimination claims as corporations. now, does the government have a position on whether corporations have a race? >> yes. we think those are correct and that this situation is different. >> so that so that a corporation does have a race for purposes of discrimination laws. >> no, not that the corporation has a race, but that corporations can bring those claims. but you're not interpreting in that situation, all you're interpreting is the word "person" in a statute, not exercise of religion, which is what makes it different here. >> so those cases involve construction of the term "person"? >> yes, but only "person." >> so the person the corporation can bring as a person a claim of racial discrimination. >> that's correct, but not exercise of religion. that's the difference. but let me, if i could, we think that part of the problem here and the reason we make the argument we do at the threshold about why you ought not recognize claims under rfra
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for-profit corporations is that they are going to predictively give rise to the kinds of issues you have in this case in which the exemption is going to impose a burden on third parties or extinguish rights of third parties, employees or others, and that that really can't be what congress was thinking about. but even if you -- >> if you say they can't even get their they can't even get their day in court, you're saying something pretty, pretty strong. >> and i understand, but if your honor disagrees with me if the court doesn't agree with this position at the threshold, the same considerations with respect to the harms of third parties definitely play into the compelling-interest analysis. in fact, under rfra, the standard, the precise standard of the statute says the government must meet is that it must show that the application of the law to the particular parties here, conestoga and hobby lobby, is in furtherance of the government's compelling interest. that's the test. so the question here is whether having hobby lobby and conestoga provide this coverage is in
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furtherance of the government's interests in ensuring that this kind of preventive service coverage is available and, in particular, the contraceptive coverage that's included within it. >> is it your position that part of the compelling interest here is that you have to protect the integrity the operational integrity of the whole act? >> it is part of our argument, absolutely. and but it but there is in addition to that, much more -- >> does that mean the constitutionality of the whole act has to be examined before we accept your view? >> well, i think it has been examined, your honor, is my recollection. >> but with respect to -- but with respect to there is a particularized interest here in that what we are talking about is a question of whether 14,000 employees and their families get access to this contraceptive coverage. >> you have exempted a whole class of corporations and you've done so under your view not because of rfra. >> so let me let me go to that -- >> now, what kind of constitutional structure do we
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have if the congress can give an agency the power to grant or not grant a religious exemption based on what the agency determined? i recognize delegation of powers rules are somewhat more abundant insofar as their enforcement in this court. but when we have a first amendment issue of this consequence, shouldn't we indicate that it's for the congress, not the agency to determine that this corporation gets the exemption on that one, and not even for rfra purposes, for other purposes. >> and, your honor, i do think that it was appropriate for the agency, in exercising its delegated authority here to take into account the special solicitude that under our constitutional order churches receive. and it's important to understand, and i want to walk
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through this question of exemptions very carefully because i think there's a lot of confusion here that needs to be cleared up, that all that the all that the government has done is say that churches, because of that special solicitude, which the court recognized in hosanna tabor, churches get an exemption. the nonprofit religious organizations don't get an exemption. there's an accommodation there provided, but that accommodation results in the employees receiving access to this to the contraceptive coverage, so that doesn't diminish the government's compelling interest. the tenth circuit and my friends on the other side have relied on this idea that employers with fewer than 50 employees are somehow exempt. >> but you gave this exemption, according to your brief, without reference to the policies of rfra. what were the policies that you were implementing? >> well, with respect to -- as i said, with respect to the churches, it was the special solicitude that churches receive under our constitution under the first amendment. but with respect now, with respect to the employers 50 and under, it's just not right to say that there's any kind of an exemption. if they offer health insurance, they're subject to exactly the
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same per employee, per-day penalty as larger corporations, exactly the same risk of labor department enforcement, exactly the same risk of an erisa suit by the plan beneficiaries. there is no possible way to look at the statutory scheme and conclude there is an exemption there. >> grandfathered plans? >> yes. the grandfathered plans. >> what about the -- let me talk about -- well, just before you so one thing i'd like you to address, the disputar clement about how long they were going to be in effect. can you make a representation to us about how long the grandfathering is going to be in effect? >> i can't give you a precise figure as to there's a clear downward trajectory. there's significant movement downward every year in the numbers. there's every reason to think that's going to continue. i can't give you a precise time when that is going to be -- >> can you give me an approximate time, if not a precise one? >> i can't give you a representation of exactly how low that number is going to go and exactly how long it's going to take. but i think what you're talking about is a period in which that number is going to go to a very,
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very low level over a several year period. >> well, if you can't tell us, and i don't fault you for not being able to tell us, when the grandfathering is going to end, shouldn't we assume in our analysis that it is current and, as far as we can tell, not going to end? >> no. i don't that's right, your honor. and i think let's look at this, if we could, in toto. that with respect to grandfathering, it's to be expected that employers and insurance companies are going to make decisions that trigger the loss of that so-called grandfathered status under the under the governing regulation. >> isn't it true with respect to the grandfathered plans that the regulations required immediate compliance with certain requirements, but not with preventive care requirements; isn't that right? let me read you what hhs said in the regulation -- "with certain particularly significant
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protections, particularly significant protections, congress required grandfathered health plans to comply with a subset of the affordable care act's health reform provisions. on the other hand, grandfathered health plans are not required to comply with certain other requirements of the affordable care act, for example, the requirement that preventive health services be covered without any cost sharing." so isn't hhs saying there, quite specifically, these, in our view, are not within this subset of particularly significant requirements as to which there must be immediate compliance? >> well, the question would be whether there's a compelling interest in compliance with these requirements. and i'd like to make two points in response to your honor's question. first, with respect to the issue of delay, which i think, mr. chief justice, your question raised, and my friend on the other side has put a lot of weight on, i'd refer the court to the ada. i don't think anybody would doubt that the americans with disabilities act advances interest of the highest order. but when congress enacted that,
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it put a two-year delay on the applicability of the discrimination provision. >> well, isn't that because you're talking about building ramps and things like that? >> no. no, your honor. there's an even longer delay with respect to those kinds of provisions, but it's just a basic prohibition of discrimination two-year delay, and no one would doubt there's a compelling interest here. and with title vii. my friends on the other side have said, well, this different because there's so many more people who are going to not have this coverage under the grandfathered plan. but with respect to title vii, of course, it's still the case that that employers with 15 or fewer people are not subject to that law, and that's 80% of the employers in the country. and if you run the math, that's it's at least 80% that's it's going to be somewhere between 10 million and 22 million people who are not within the coverage. no one would say that because the coverage is incomplete in that respect, that title vii enforcing title vii doesn't advance -- >> those were decisions those were decisions that congress de, right?