By a surprising 7-2 majority, the Supreme Court has expanded the number of entities that can claim a religious or moral exemption to offering insurance that includes women’s birth control coverage for employees. Now, publicly traded companies and large universities will have the same protections as churches and religious orders.
The ruling will give the Department of Health and Human Services broad latitude in deciding which entities can be exempt from the contraceptive mandate. The Trump rule expanding the exemption was held up in a lower court that granted an injunction when the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania sued claiming that the costs of contraception for women who lost coverage would fall on them.
The decision today involved Trump administration rules that would allow publicly traded companies and large universities to claim a religious objection for refusing to provide the coverage. Even more broadly, employers and schools with any moral objection would also be exempt from the requirement.
The rules were intended to deliver on a campaign promise by President Donald Trump to roll back the coverage requirement. He said employers should not be “bullied by the federal government because of their religious beliefs.”
The two most liberal members of the court dissented.
In dissent, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said the court in the past has struck a balance in relgious freedom cases, so that the beliefs of some do not overwhelm the rights of others.
“Today for the first time, the court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests in its zeal to secure religious rights to the nth degree” and “leaves women workers to fend for themselves” in seeking contraceptive services, they said.
Hyperbolic balderdash. When liberals talk about “balance” they mean policies that overwhelmingly support their point of view. Any step back from that is a catastrophe. It “leaves women workers to fend for themselves” in seeking contraceptive services means women who want contraception and can’t get it from their employer are going to have to call the doctor themselves and make an appointment. That’s “fending for themselves.”
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority.
“After two decisions from this court and multiple failed regulatory attempts, the federal government has arrived at a solution that exempts the Little Sisters from the source of their complicity-based concerns — the administratively imposed contraceptive mandate,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority, referencing Little Sisters of the Poor, the Catholic nonprofit involved in the case. “We hold today that the departments had the statutory authority to craft that exemption, as well as the contemporaneously issued moral exemption.”
The case was sent back to the lower court with instructions to dissolve a nationwide injunction blocking implementation of the rules.
With government crowding our lives with more and more “mandates” and restrictions, there must be room somewhere for exemptions based on the individual’s conscience. This is the very essence of individual liberty and must never be lost.
Good on ya, Supreme Court.