The Supreme Court announced that it will hear seven challenges, consolidated into one, of non-profit religious organizations which believe that sending a letter opting out of contraceptive coverage for their employees violates their religious beliefs.
Sixteen months after ruling narrowly that private companies with religious objections cannot be forced to pay for employees’ contraceptives, the high court has been met with a chorus of cries from religious charities, schools and hospitals seeking to get out of the birth control business altogether.
The new challenge asks the justices to overturn federal appeals court decisions that would force the non-profit groups to take action in order to opt out of the requirement, rather than receiving the blanket exclusion granted churches and other solely religious institutions.
On one hand, the court has saved Obamacare from legal destruction twice, in 2012 and again this year. But it ruled last year that closely-held corporations,
as arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby whose owners object to contraception, could hand off providing free coverage of birth control to insurers or others.
You might remember that in the Hobby Lobby decision, the majority said that it was a simple matter for the company to inform the government or their insurance providers in writing that they would not pay for birth control, that the accommodation that the administration had created for religious entities could easily be extended to closely-held corporations, so what’s the big problem? You might also remember that immediately following that decision—like within two days—the court granted an injunction for Wheaton College, a Christian college in Illinois, that argued that this accommodation—the one the majority said was the silver bullet for Hobby Lobby—was too much for the college, that “having to complete federal forms that they have to send to insurers and plan administrators is a religious burden because doing so makes them complicit in providing the evil birth control.”
Within two days, the court’s majority was disregarding a brand-new precedent, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent. “Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word. Not so today. […] That action evinces disregard for even the newest of this Court’s precedents and undermines confidence in this institution.” Dust off your keyboard, Justice Sotomayor. You’re going to have another dissent to write.