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


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.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.