WASHINGTON (RNS) The Supreme Court offered a further sign that it favors letting employers with religious objections avoid the Obama administration’s so-called contraception mandate.

The Supreme Court on July 3, 2014, blocked the administration from forcing an evangelical college in Illinois to sanction insurance coverage for emergency birth control. The court's three female justices vehemently objected to the action.

The Supreme Court on July 3, 2014, blocked the administration from forcing an evangelical college in Illinois to sanction insurance coverage for emergency birth control. The court’s three female justices vehemently objected to the action. Public domain images

Over the vehement objection of its three female justices, the court late Thursday (July 3) blocked the administration from forcing evangelical Wheaton College to sanction insurance coverage for emergency birth control, even though it would not have had to offer the coverage itself.

In doing so, the court made clear that it’s not done with the religious liberty issue following the court’s June 30 ruling that closely-held, for-profit corporations with objections to certain contraception methods do not have to offer this type of coverage to their employees.

Noting that appeals courts across the country are divided on how religious nonprofits such as charities, hospitals and colleges should be handled under the regulation, the court said “such division is a traditional ground for certiorari” — a decision by the justices to resolve the issue.

In the meantime, the court said women employees of Wheaton College outside Chicago should be able to get emergency contraception services from private insurers — without requiring the college to sign a form it claims would make it complicit in the transaction.

Ironically, it was that arrangement — in which objecting religious nonprofits would sign over their responsibility to offer contraception coverage to insurers or third-party administrators — that the court cited Monday as a potential solution for profit-making companies such as the craft store chain Hobby Lobby.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan, dissented from Thursday’s order. She said the accommodation already granted to nonprofits “is the least restrictive means of furthering the government’s compelling interests in public health and women’s well-being.”

“Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word. Not so to­day,” Sotomayor said. Declaring insufficient the very accommodation it held out Monday as a possible solution for Hobby Lobby “evinces disregard for even the newest of this court’s precedents and undermines confidence in this institution,” she said.

Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the Health and Human Services Department issued a regulation requiring employers to offer women’s preventive health insurance coverage, including 20 forms of contraception.

The Supreme Court on July 3, 2014, blocked the administration from forcing Wheaton College in Illinois to sanction insurance coverage for emergency birth control. Photo by Blanche Heidengren via Wheaton College Media Center

The Supreme Court on July 3, 2014, blocked the administration from forcing Wheaton College in Illinois to sanction insurance coverage for emergency birth control. Photo by Blanche Heidengren via Wheaton College Media Center

The administration exempted churches and other religious institutions from the requirement. After religious nonprofits objected, it devised its accommodation: They could fill out a form registering their objections, which would trigger provision of the coverage by insurers.

Two types of lawsuits grew out of the contraception mandate. Dozens of nonprofits challenged that arrangement, and dozens of for-profit corporations — mostly closely-held, family-owned companies — sought exemptions as well.

“We continue to believe that a college community that affirms the sanctity of human life from conception to the grave should not be coerced by the government into facilitating the provision of abortion-inducing drugs,” said Wheaton president Philip Ryken.

Following Monday’s 5-4 ruling, those for-profit companies can expect favorable treatment in the lower courts, a process the Supreme Court already began by denying some government petitions and directing courts to reconsider private challenges.

Thursday’s order points toward similarly favorable treatment for other nonprofits whose status is the same as Wheaton’s. Beyond denying contraceptive coverage without co-payments to hundreds of the college’s employees and students, Sotomayor said, the order “will presumably entitle hundreds or thousands of other objectors to the same remedy.”

(RIchard Wolf writes for USA Today)

KRE END WOLF

12 Comments

  1. Come now the throngs of buggy eyed, foaming statists who demand religous freedom be subverted and forced out of existence in the name of sexual freedom. They want nothing more than access to entitlement living at the expense of private wealth, mob sanctioned theft, to continue and expand their decadence. America has been long dead at the hand of secular freedom fighters who only can offer us freedoms only a harlot would be proud of.

    And the celebratory fireworks in remembrance of pride past explode in thd background.

    • As a general rule anyone who uses the term “statist”, who is not a Political Science professor, is not someone to be then seriously. They like ineffective government which is easily corrupted by private, corporate or institutional entities. They have no concept of religious freedom or believe it only applies in a “might makes right” context.

      Thee is no rational argument to be made here for the non-profits. They are neither paying fr the contraception nr being fined here. Their alleged religious objection is that their employees have any kind of access to contraception. As far as I know having a religious objection to someone else’s actions, doesn’t amount to a pile of crap.

      • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

        The more government grows, the more it becomes –not just a dispenser of goodies–but more and more the dictator of what we must believe and how we must behave and thereby become government puppets. It is sad to see so many Americans willing to sell out religious liberty and the First Amendment –a sell-out buttressed by a pile of media lies.

        • The big gaping hole in the argument us that government in a representative democracy as ours is not some monolithic entity divorced from society. It IS society. Government of the people is supposed to safeguard the powerless from being trampled upon. You would rather see a weak and corrupt system than one which represents us all.

          The powerful will always look after their own interest without regard to anything other than imposed limits.

          You have no idea what religious freedom means. It is never a right to coerce others, as you would have it. What you call religious liberty is just bullying with an irrational excuse.

          • “…government in a representative democracy as ours is not some monolithic entity divorced from society. It IS society.”

            Well said. George Orwell would be proud of you. Government is the one power in society, and it can do exactly as it likes.

            And when George Bush was sending people to Guantanamo, that was the government, and therefore perfectly fine?

          • Bernard, I bet you never read Orwell. You know he wrote the satiric novel 1984 which you heard of. You hear his name cited a lot but outside of that, its just a “crank bingo” square.

            Government of a democracy only works to the level we chose to make it work. If you are not getting involved with how it is working, or bothering to understand it, you bend yourself over.

            “Government is the one power in society, and it can do exactly as it likes.”

            You watch way too much TV and none of it being news channels.

        • The Great God Pan

          “The more government grows, the more it becomes … the dictator of what we must believe and how we must behave…”

          Sounds like religion.

          • How naive and obviously 180 degrees wrong. But a good bumper sticker thought. Seems to be a lot of that.

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