The Supreme Court voted on Wednesday, July 8, 7-2 in favor of Trump administration rules that exempt employers with strong religious or moral beliefs from the obligation of providing free contraceptive coverage to their employees, according to “Obamacare.”
Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court voted to uphold rules established by the Trump administration that extend exemptions for employers with sincere moral or religious objections from the obligation of complying with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) regarding free contraceptive coverage for employees. This ruling is a victory for the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Catholic nonprofit elder care group, which was also involved in the case.
The debate came after Pennsylvania and New Jersey stopped the implementation of the regulations in the lower courts. The states argued that the federal government did not follow legal protocol in creating the rules.
The Trump administration, through the Department of Justice, and the Little Sisters of the Poor asked the Supreme Court to overturn those decisions.
The result of the vote was 7-2, in favor of freedom of religion and conscience.
The majority opinion was written by Justice Clarence Thomas, who argued the decision by saying, “For over 150 years, the Little Sisters have engaged in faithful service and sacrifice, motivated by a religious calling to surrender all for the sake of their brother. … But for the past seven years, they—like many other religious objectors who have participated in the litigation and rule-makings leading up to today’s decision—have had to fight for the ability to continue in their noble work without violating their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
He further said of the Trump administration, “We hold today that the departments had the statutory authority to craft that exemption, as well as the contemporaneously issued moral exemption. We further hold that the rules promulgating these exemptions are free from procedural defects.”
The dissenting judges were Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. Ginsburg warned in her dissent that the ruling could put women’s health at risk.
There were also two concurring opinions, one written by Justice Samuel Alito and joined by Justice Neil Gorsuch, and one written by Justice Elena Kagan and joined by Justice Stephen Breyer. Both writings stated that further litigation is anticipated in the case.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement “This fight is not over.”
Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision in a statement, “Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a big win for religious freedom and freedom of conscience. … Since Day One, the Trump administration has sought to lift burdens on religious exercise for people of all faiths. As the Supreme Court has previously stated, protecting the ability of people to worship and live according to the dictates of their conscience is part of ‘the best of our traditions.’ … The Court’s decision today carries forward that noble tradition.”
In recent days the Supreme Court has taken a position in favor of religious organizations in two other cases, one involving employment discrimination and the other concerning the failure to prohibit funding for scholarships to religious schools.