It Looks Like the Supreme Court Is Getting Ready to Rule Against Religious Objections to Contraceptive Coverage

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I might be missing something here, but the latest Supreme Court order in the Little Sisters of the Poor case seems kind of odd. As you’ll recall, the Sisters object to the idea of having to submit a form saying that they don’t want their health insurance coverage to include contraceptives. Their reasoning is that filling out a form is an affirmative act that will eventually lead to employees getting contraceptives, which they consider a sin.

What to do? Today the Supreme Court noted the Sisters’ objections and asked both sides to submit briefs with alternative ideas:

For example, the parties should consider a situation in which [the Sisters] would contract to provide health insurance for their employees, and in the course of obtaining such insurance, inform their insurance company that they do not want their health plan to include contraceptive coverage of the type to which they object on religious grounds. [The Sisters] would have no legal obligation to provide such contraceptive coverage, would not pay for such coverage, and would not be required to submit any separate notice to their insurer, to the Federal Government, or to their employees.

At the same time, [the Sisters’] insurance company—aware that [the Sisters] are not providing certain contraceptive coverage on religious grounds—would separately notify [the Sisters’] employees that the insurance company will provide cost-free contraceptive coverage, and that such coverage is not paid for by [the Sisters] and is not provided through [the Sisters’] health plan. The parties may address other proposals along similar lines, avoiding repetition of discussion in prior briefing.

The briefs are limited to 25 pages, but it sure sounds as if the government could submit a one-page brief that copies this language exactly and agrees that it sounds just peachy. For all intents and purposes, it seems like the Supreme Court is telling them to do exactly that and they’ll get a ruling in their favor. End of case.

That’s a little unusual, isn’t it? That is, for the court to basically tell one of the parties, “say this and you win the case.” But that’s what it looks like, unless the Sisters manage to manufacture some kind of credible objection even to this.

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In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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