Supreme Court Upholds Religious Freedom


Just when you thought the Supreme Court had been highjacked by the liberals, conservatives received some good news.

First, SCOTUS announced a unanimous decision condemning the “faithless electors” in the 2016 presidential election who chose to vote independent of their state’s election results. Then, by a 7-2 vote, the Court upheld the Trump administration rules that expanded moral and religious exemptions to a federal requirement that employer-provided health insurance plans cover birth control with no out-of-pocket expenses.

Not only Chief Justice John Roberts, a recent supporter of liberal opinions, but also liberal Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer, along with reliable conservatives Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh voted with the majority. Only liberal stalwarts Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

Brent Kendall, writing in The Wall Street Journal, reports the majority opinion, written by Justice Thomas, said the administration “had the authority to provide exemptions from the regulatory contraceptive requirements for employers with religious and conscientious objections.”

The issue received national attention following the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) which mandated employers provide birth control and abortifacients (drugs that induce abortion) to all employees who requested them. They then provided exemptions for many industries and political supporters including churches, but not for religious affiliated organizations or privately owned businesses.

Hobby Lobby, a national arts and crafts store, was the first to challenge the law successfully in the courts. The Supreme Court ruled in their favor, but the decision was narrowly worded and did not provide relief for many other organizations. The Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic charity of nuns, was not considered exempt from the law.

The Trump administration issued new rules in 2018 that broadened the exemptions to allow many employers to cite religious or moral objections to drop contraceptives without provision for alternate coverage. These new rules were challenged by the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey and brought before the Supreme Court. Lower court rulings that opposed the Trump administration rules forced the decision to come before SCOTUS.

It is reassuring in these times of liberal ascendancy on the Court to see that the Justices can sometimes see things as the original founding fathers imagined them. There is no greater freedom that we hold dear than the freedom to worship in our own way and operate our businesses and our lives in accordance with our own religious beliefs. The Supreme Court has upheld the American way of life – at least for this moment.