More expected issues in Imbong vs Ochoa

In addition to the areas of discussion that we previously anticipated (correctly, I might add), for the Supreme Court oral arguments in Imbong vs Ochoa (or more popularly known as the RH Law case), here are possible other questions that may be covered for the 23 July 2013 oral arguments. This, it must be emphasized, is on top of the questions in B and C of our 2 July 2013 blog entry - see here - which are still expected to be asked in the next hearing:

On religious freedom
  • Petitioners keep insisting in complaining that taxes are being used for contraceptives, how do petitioners prove that their taxes are to be used for contraceptives when such taxes are paid generally and without identifying the purpose for paying such taxes?
  • How can petitioners insist in arguing regarding taxes when around 80% of the population, most of whom are contraceptives, support the use of contraceptives?
  • Again, so petitioners are saying that if a religion out there is not supportive of military action to defend our country or is against coeducation for our public school, for example, then any such taxpayer can refuse to pay taxes because it goes against his religion?
  • If petitioners are against the RH Law because contraception is immoral, then does that mean petitioners are saying the Supreme Court has the mandate to rule on morality for Filipinos?
  • Can morality be a judicial issue or can morality be legislated upon? If so, would issues of morality be better dealt with by Congress and not by the Supreme Court?
  • If petitioner believes that the Supreme Court has the mandate to rule on morals (and even 'truths'), what particular provision in the Constitution authorizes the Supreme Court to do so?
  • But wouldn't the ruling and reasoning by the US Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood demonstrate that no tribunal in a constitutional non-theocratic democracy can rule on moral issues?
  • Assuming that the Supreme Court can rule on morality, what particular moral framework do the petitioners suggest? What would be the legal or constitutional provision justifying such suggested moral framework?
  • Do petitioners admit that no specific provision in the Constitution allow the Supreme Court to make a judgment on moral issues?
  • By suggesting such moral framework, wouldn't petitioners be essentially demanding that the Catholic moral framework be imposed on the rest of Filipinos? Would that not be a violation of Church-State separation? Note that such provision, while not even mentioned in the US Constitution and yet is strictly applied there, should Church-State separation be even more strictly applied in the Philippines considering its express provision in our Constitution?
  • Why do petitioners insist that contraception is immoral? note that only Catholics (and specific schools of Islam) say that it is immoral. And if the Supreme Court declares it immoral, wouldn't that be in effect imposing a religious doctrine on others who do not follow the same religion?
  • Why do petitioners insist in mentioning natural law? How different is this from Catholic teaching and thus limited only to Catholics?
  • Besides, what specific provision can petitioners cite that would authorize the Supreme Court to refer to natural law for its rulings? If petitioners cite Article III, Section 5, then such is a religious right and comes only with exception consequences and applicable only to Catholics.
  • If petitioners cite Article VIII, Section 1, 'grave abuse of discretion', do petitioners therefore mean that just because a law is against natural law then such is grave abuse of discretion? Why? Please explain in detail. Because if natural law is merely a Catholic doctrine, then for Congress to make a law that burdens religious freedom, such would not necessarily be a grave abuse of discretion as Congress has the mandate to do that assuming there is a valid State interest involved.
  • Why is contraception against natural law? How come NFP is not against natural law? Please explain in detail. Because if petitioners can explain natural law and contraception only by referring to Papal encyclicals or Catholic teaching, wouldn't that mean therefore that natural law is a Catholic teaching and thus falls within religious freedom provisions? Which means that, the notion of the immorality of contraception is applicable only to practicing Catholics (note that even around 80% of Catholics agree to the use of contraception).
  • If petitioners explain natural law by referring to God, then what god are petitioners referring to? Does that mean petitioners are expecting the Supreme Court to ignore the rights of non-Christians and even atheists?
  • Are there any non-Catholic natural law experts do you know? Are there any non-Catholic natural law experts do you know that agree that contraception is immoral? If petitioners can only mention Catholic natural law experts as being against contraception, then why do petitioners deny that this is just Catholic teaching that is applicable to Catholics?
  • In which case, why do petitioners insist in imposing Catholic teaching on others? Don't petitioners respect Church-State separation?
  • Do petitioners expect the Supreme Court to declare that only Catholics are right, with every other religion and all non-believers wrong?
  • How can the privacy of married Catholic couples be burdened considering that they are free under the RH Law not to use contraceptives and to rely instead on NFP?
  • On the other hand, wouldn't the privacy rights of non-married couples or couples who are not Catholics be hampered due to to the fact that they are being restricted in their reproductive health options should the RH Law be overturned?
  • Returning to natural law, are petitioners familiar with the case of Planned Parenthood vs Casey? If so, will petitioners agree that the US Supreme Court in that case definitively ruled that it has no constitutional basis to rule on moral issues and that it has no authority (due to the fact that there is no legal provision mandating the US Supreme Court to do so and also due to the rights of citizens to liberty and individual choice) to declare universal moral standards? In effect, do petitioners agree that the US Supreme Court effectively said that natural law plays no part in judicial determinations?
  • But didn't the US Supreme Court's ruling in Griswold actually authorize the use of contraceptives precisely because of the right to privacy?
  • Do petitioners suggest that contraceptives harm female health? But Congress already took years in conducting public hearings on this matter, involving many medical and scientific experts, and decided otherwise.
  • If petitioners suggest that contraceptives harm female health, would the Supreme Court be the improper venue for that as evidence needs to be presented?
  • If petitioners suggest that contraceptives harm the economy, would the Supreme Court be the improper venue for that as evidence needs to be presented?
  • If petitioners suggest that contraceptives cause promiscuity among the populace, would the Supreme Court be the improper venue for that as evidence needs to be presented?
  • Why do petitioners keep declaiming about the 'culture of life' that must be protected when contraception (at least non-hormonal contraceptives) merely prevent new life but do not kill life already existing? Are petitioners saying that even those who are not conceived have legal rights? What legal basis do petitioners have for claiming this?
  • Are petitioners claiming that women have no right of choice?
  • Are petitioners claiming that those still not conceived have rights over and above that of women?
  • Doesn't Congress have the prerogative to ensure that those born would have enough care and resource for them to live decently and with dignity?
  • Didn't petitioners reveal during the oral arguments last 9 July that petitioners are not against non-hormonal contraceptives? So why are petitioners now arguing against non-hormonal contraceptives?
Not included here are the issues relating to 'standing' or 'venue' (considering the repeated referral by petitioners on evidence outside that of the provisions in RA 10354), which the Supreme Court may in all likelihood continue to explore.