Court rules that IL college can opt out of contraceptive mandate
Looks like that "narrow" ruling in the Hobby Lobby case just got a little broader.
The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a small Illinois college doesn't have to abide by the Obamacare contraceptive mandate - for now. The justices, by a 6-3 margin, voted to await further court cases that dealt with institutions like the school in question, before making a final ruling.
The justices said they would block the policy in Wheaton’s case until the courts determine whether the coverage requirement is valid for religious institutions and nonprofits — the issue that is likely to return to the high court this fall.
They were careful to say that Thursday’s order is not a reflection of their view on the merits of the case. But Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan responded to the brief ruling with a 16-page dissent that criticized the court for backtracking on its Hobby Lobby decision, which said that an accommodation by the Obama administration respects religious liberty.
“Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word. Not so today,” Sotomayor wrote. “After expressly relying on the availability of the religious-nonprofit accommodation to hold that the contraceptive coverage requirement violates [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] as applied to closely held for-profit corporations, the Court now, as the dissent in Hobby Lobby feared it might, retreats from that position.”
Sotomayor also stressed the rarity of a Supreme Court emergency injunction, arguing that Wheaton’s potential for fines didn’t warrant the high court’s intervention. And she questioned whether the self-certification form that the Illinois college would fill out as part of that accommodation is a legitimate burden.
“Let me be absolutely clear: I do not doubt that Wheaton genuinely believes that signing the self-certification form is contrary to its religious beliefs,” she wrote. “But thinking one’s religious beliefs are substantially burdened — no matter how sincere or genuine that belief may be — does not make it so.”
The order is similar to the injunction granted earlier this year to the Little Sisters of the Poor, an organization that runs housing for the elderly.
The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision only applies to for-profit companies and not to religious nonprofits such as Wheaton, which do not have to provide the birth control drugs or products directly. The nonprofits oppose the administration’s policy, arguing that they still have to indirectly allow access to products they oppose on religious grounds.
When the Obama policy on contraceptive mandates as it applies to religious non-profit groups was created, it was designed to give an "out" to these institutions by making contraceptives available to employees indirectly. They couldn't understand why people of conscience wouldn't see much of a difference between directly paying for contraceptives and having a third party supply them. They would still be involved in what they believe is sinful behavior.
Liberals make such moral compromises all the time so they couldn't understand why anyone would object.
The question before the court is: Does the contraceptive mandate place an undue burden on religious organizations by forcing them to pay a fine for not covering birth control? The court appears inclined to grant the waiver if Wheaton can show they will be significantly harmed.
It probably won't be until this time next year that we get the answer to that question.