SCOTUS protects religious freedom from prior Obama-era rules

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In a 7-2 decision that should have been unanimous, the Supreme Court ruled the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause exempts religious organizations from employment discrimination lawsuits and from any requirement to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees.

These are victories for the Trump administration and for the 1st Amendment.

Justices Ginsberg and Sotomayor dissented in both cases.

THE CASE

The Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, gives the government authority to create the religious and moral objections, said Justice Clarence Thomas for the court’s 7-2 majority.

The Department of Health and Human Services “has virtually unbridled discretion to decide what counts as preventive care and screenings,” and that same authority “leaves its discretion equally unchecked in other areas, including the ability to identify and create exemptions from its own guildelines,” NBC News reported.

In the dissent, Ginsberg and Sotomayor said the religious rights this decision affords intrude on the rights of others.

“Today for the first time, the court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests in its zeal to secure religious rights to the nth degree” and “leaves women workers to fend for themselves” in seeking contraceptive services, they said.

THE PRIOR CASE

In a 2014 case involving the Hobby Lobby stores, the Supreme Court said a private, religiously oriented, and closely held company could get an exemption from the contraceptive mandate on religious grounds.

The decision today involved Trump administration rules that would allow publicly traded companies and large universities to claim a religious objection for refusing to provide the coverage. Even more broadly, employers and schools with any moral objection would also be exempt from the requirement.

The rules deliver on a campaign promise by President Donald Trump to roll back the coverage requirement. He said employers should not be “bullied by the federal government because of their religious beliefs.”

The Epoch Times reported that the 2011 Obama-era rule spurred more than 100 lawsuits from all manner of people and groups. In October 2017, the Trump administration exempted religious groups from complying with the Obamacare mandate.

 


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