The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) issued a ruling on Wednesday that will allow employers to opt out of providing free birth control for workers, which was previously mandated under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
SCOTUS sided with the Trump administration by a vote of 7-2, determining that employers can cite religious or moral objections to opt out of the mandate. This is a serious victory for freedom of religion.
“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,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote.
“The only question we face today is what the plain language of the statute authorizes,” he added. “And the plain language of the statute clearly allows the Departments to create the preventive care standards as well as the religious and moral exemptions.”
Thomas was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer to vote with the majority. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented with the majority ruling.
“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,” Ginsburg wrote in her dissent.
The ACA had provided waivers to churches and synagogues from complying with the mandate, but it did not apply to other religious organizations, including non-profits such as charities, hospitals and universities affiliated with the Church. The Obama administration would eventually craft an opt out for these types of organizations forcing the religious organizations to work out a plan for their workers to receive free birth control through a third party.
The Trump administration announced new rules when he came into office that broadened the opt out provision to cover non-profits and even some for-profit entities. SCOTUS reaffirmed the constitutionality of Trump’s rules with their ruling, much to the chagrin of liberal activists.
SCOTUS issued another ruling on Wednesday shielding religious schools from junk discrimination lawsuits made by teachers. The ruling was also on a 7-2 basis, with the same justices voting in favor of religious freedom with the two far-left justices dissenting.
“The religious education and formation of students is the very reason for the existence of most private religious schools, and therefore the selection and supervision of the teachers upon whom the schools rely to do this work lie at the core of their mission,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court.
“Judicial review of the way in which religious schools discharge those responsibilities would undermine the independence of religious institutions in a way that the First Amendment does not tolerate,” he wrote.
President Trump’s conservative restructuring of the judiciary has apparently created a super-majority on SCOTUS that will protect religious freedom.