Demonstrators gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court as the court ruled that religious institutions like churches and schools are shielded from employment discrimination lawsuits in Washington, U.S., July 8, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

In a 7-2 ruling on Wednesday, the Supreme Court upheld exemptions for employers with moral or religious objections to provide free birth control in their employee healthcare coverage as mandated under the Affordable Care Act. In the majority opinion on the consolidated Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania and Trump v. Pennsylvania cases, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the rules the Trump administration used to change the exemptions were “consistent” with the ACA, but added that if there were any shortcomings in protections, that fault lay in the hands of Congress. The case will now return to a lower court, which originally blocked the Trump administration’s rule’s implementation nationwide. Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer, the two liberal judges that agreed with the ruling, sided with the White House’s authority to issue the exemptions; however, they believed a lower court should address the issue. In the dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that the Court has previously taken a “balanced approach” in religious freedom cases, but stated that “for the first time, the Court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests in its zeal to secure religious rights to the nth degree.”

The White House celebrated the ruling as a “big win” for President Trump. When speaking of the ruling, Sister Constance Veit of the Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul told Fox & Friends, “I do have to say that we always knew that God would protect us.” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion organization Susan B. Anthony List, lauded the victory for the administration and the charity, noting, “We hope today’s victory at the Supreme Court will finally allow the Little Sisters to carry out their mission to love and serve the elderly poor without having to violate their conscience.”

Many healthcare professionals alleged the decision would put the “reproductive of millions at risk.” Up to 126,000 women nationwide could lose healthcare coverage of their birth control under the exemption. According to Planned Parenthood, 9 out of 10 women explore contraceptive options in their lifetime. A group of four House Democrats introduced legislation Thursday that would repeal the exemptions. The ACA originally required preventative health services for women to be included in most insurance plans, rather than explicitly calling for coverage of contraceptives.

With this case, alongside two other religious belief-based cases this week, the Supreme Court showed a tendency to rule in favor of plaintiffs claiming religious discrimination. The Supreme Court also ruled on Wednesday that federal employment discrimination laws do not apply to teachers working at religious institutions. Last week, the Court struck down a Montana rule that barred religious-affiliated schools from taking part in the state’s tax-credit scholarship program.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

SCOTUS: Little Sisters of the Poor Win Again – The American Spectator – 7/9/2020
During the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump pledged to end government abuse of the so-called contraception mandate. […] In October of 2017, President Trump made good on his campaign promise by instructing HHS to issue a new rule dramatically expanding the mandate’s conscience exemption. Wednesday, in a 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the exemption in Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul v. Pennsylvania.

126,000 May Lose Contraception Coverage as Supreme Court Backs Trump Administration in Today’s Ruling – Truthout – 7/8/2020
The United States Supreme Court delivered a blow to reproductive rights on Wednesday, siding with the Trump administration in a case that gave employers across the country more leeway in denying contraception to workers if it goes against the company’s morals. […] The ruling is viewed as a victory for President Donald Trump, who has pushed to expand contraceptive exemptions to private companies, schools, and other groups on the basis of moral or religious objections.

Little Sisters of the Poor Win Big at Supreme Court, but the Fight Isn’t Over – The Daily Signal – 7/8/2020
Why are some in the government so determined to force a group of Catholic nuns to violate their beliefs? That’s a question we all should be asking as we celebrate Wednesday’s Supreme Court victory for the Little Sisters. Regrettably, Wednesday’s victory is unlikely to be the end of the government harassment of the nuns.

Trump and the Radical Right Want Total Control Over Women – Marie Claire – 7/8/2020
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court gave the Trump administration the go-ahead to implement its dangerous attempt to allow bosses to deny their employees birth control coverage. The decision comes just after the Court handed down its ruling in June Medical Services LLC v. Russo, striking down Louisiana’s anti-choice clinic shutdown law. That case was a narrow victory for access to abortion in Louisiana, but prompted headlines sounding the alarm about the impact of the case on the critical 2020 election, thanks to renewed interest in the courts and their impact on reproductive rights.

Supreme Court Rules Little Sisters of the Poor Exempt from Obamacare Contraceptive Mandate – Breitbart – 7/8/2020
In a 7-2 decision in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, the Court ended the long legal struggle the nuns, who care for the elderly poor and sick, have endured. The decision also upheld the Trump administration’s conscience protections rule. “The Little Sisters’ long struggle for survival is one evidence of the growing hostility to religion in America,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins as he reacted to the ruling.

The Supreme Court just made it okay for your employer to deny you birth control coverage – Mic – 7/8/2020
The 7-2 ruling is a major victory for the Trump administration, which had introduced regulations allowing employers to deny birth control coverage mandated under Obamacare. […] In her dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg laid the stakes of Wednesday’s ruling out in plain language. “This Court leaves women workers to fend for themselves, to seek contraceptive coverage from sources other than their employer’s insurer, and, absent another available source of funding, to pay for contraceptive services out of their own pockets,” she wrote.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

Planned Parenthood Action on Twitter, 7/8/2020: Pay attention: The Supreme Court just ruled that your boss or your university can, based on their own objections, take away your birth control coverage. #SCOTUS #HandsOffMyBC

Family Research Council on Twitter, 7/8/2020: Hear! Hear! “A true advocate for women supports mothers before and after pregnancy.” #prolife

Jan Schakowsky on Twitter, 7/8/2020: Contraception isn’t a matter of ideology—it’s a matter of health. In light of today’s disappointing #SCOTUS ruling, I will work with my colleagues to pass legislation to repeal the Trump Administration’s discriminatory birth control rules. Women will not go back. #HandsOffMyBC

Joe E. Collins III For Congress CA-43 on Twitter, 7/8/2020:Great decision by the SCOTUS this morning. No Americans of any faith should be forced by the government to pay for the physical or chemical abortion of children. PERIOD!#ProLife #ProBusiness #ProFamily #ProAmerica

Dr. Jenn Conti on Twitter, 7/8/2020: The problem is we call it #birthcontrol & #contraception. They’re hormones & we use them for A LOT of medical conditions. We wouldn’t regulate other hormones like insulin & synthroid for thyroids this way. This is scathingly unethical. #HandsOffMyBC

Tim Huelskamp, Ph.D. on Twitter, 7/8/2020: And for the record – I love the Little Sisters of the Poor. Thank you – Sisters – for living out your Catholic faith! #CatholicsforTrump #ProLife #ReligiousFreedom #ReligiousLiberty #SCOTUS

Sean McCaffity for Congress TX-03 on Twitter, 7/8/2020: Sad decision by SCOTUS that puts women’s health at risk. Employers shouldn’t be able to use religion or morality as an excuse to deny healthcare to their employees. We need Medicare for All, to ensure everyone can receive the healthcare they need.

Elisa Martinez on Twitter, 7/8/2020: A win for @realDonaldTrump and religious freedom. 🙌 😇 #LittleSistersofthePoor #ProLife

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