Remember when we thought the Supreme Court had only allowed an exception to the contraception mandate to closely-held businesses?
They were just kidding about that.
Wheaton College, an evangelical Christian school in Illinois, already had the ability to avoid offering emergency contraception to employees and students. All they had to do was fill out a form for their insurance provider saying they didn’t want to cover it directly, and the insurance provider would have to cover it separately. Problem solved, right?
No. Wheaton administrators weren’t happy with that solution. They felt it was still too much of a burden on their religious conscience, because they were indirectly supporting abortion. (Which isn’t even true, but that doesn’t seem to matter.)
Today, the Supreme Court said that Wheaton had a point. It is too much of a burden. Now, all the school has to do is let the government know directly it doesn’t want to provide emergency contraception and it’ll be up to the government to figure it out from there.
Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word. Not so today. After expressly relying on the availability of the religious-nonprofit accommodation to hold that the contraceptive coverage requirement violates RFRA as applied to closely held for-profit corporations, the Court now, as the dissent in Hobby Lobby feared it might…, retreats from that position.
The sincerity of Wheaton’s deeply held religious beliefs is beyond refute. But as a legal matter, Wheaton’s application comes nowhere near the high bar necessary to warrant an emergency injunction from this Court…
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. 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 Court’s actions in this case create unnecessary costs and layers of bureaucracy, and they ignore a simple truth: The Government must be allowed to handle the basic tasks of public administration in a manner that comports with common sense. It is not the business of this Court to ensnare itself in the Government’s ministerial handling of its affairs in the manner it does here.
Sotomayor also pointed out that the substantial “burden” that Wheaton wants to get out of is essentially a tiny bit of paperwork. And if the Court lets them get away with this, where does the slippery slope stop?
We knew the “narrow ruling” on Monday would become a broad ruling soon enough. I didn’t expect it to start happening this quickly.
By the way, this is the same school that had no problem providing emergency contraception in its insurance plan prior to 2012, but they had to quickly change their coverage just so they could get angry about it. Because Obama.
(Image via Shutterstock)