With recent ruling, Supreme Court gives Christian college the Hobby Lobby treatment
Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Associated Press
The legacy of the Hobby Lobby decision is still trickling through American politics.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that an evangelical college in Illinois did not need to follow the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement, as long as it clarifies that it has a religious objection, Politico reported.
Wheaton College doesn’t provide access to birth control directly, Politico reported, so employees and students of the school won’t be affected heavily.
Wheaton will “avoid filling out a government document that the college says would violate its religious beliefs,” The Associated Press reported. The school “does not have to fill out the contested form while its case is on appeal but can instead write the Department of Health and Human Services declaring that it is a religious nonprofit organization and making its objection to emergency contraception.”
Jennifer Haberkorn of Politico noted that this may reflect an issue that the Supreme Court will deal with in the fall.
“The justices said they would block the policy in Wheaton’s case until the courts determine whether the coverage requirement is valid for religious institutions and nonprofits — the issue that is likely to return to the high court this fall,” Haberkorn wrote.
The female justices of the Supreme Court — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor — all dissented on the case. Sotomayor specifically spoke out against the court’s decision.
“Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word,” wrote Sotomayor in her dissent, Time magazine reported. “Not so today.”
Sotomayor went on to write that it’s the Supreme Court’s job to decide which cases feature institutions that have a substantial religious burden and not just a sincere one, Time magazine reported.
This is the second time this week that the Hobby Lobby decision’s legacy has had an impact on American political and religious culture.
On Thursday, Deseret News National reported that faith leaders who have been close to President Barack Obama sent the president a letter that called for them to be religiously exempt from an executive order regarding sexual orientation and discrimination that Obama is set to sign.
What Obama will soon sign is “an executive order protecting federal employees from being discriminated against on the basis of gender identity. Discriminating against federal employees based on sexual orientation is already banned,” The Washington Post reported.
The faith leaders said in the letter that they aren’t trying to disrespect the president’s executive order, but rather, they want to serve their community members.
“We believe that all persons are created in the divine image of the creator, and are worthy of respect and love, without exception,” the letter read. “Even so, it still may not be possible for all sides to reach a consensus on every issue. That is why we are asking that an extension of protection for one group not come at the expense of faith communities whose religious identity and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need."
Religious exemptions are part of the legacy of the Supreme Court's decision on the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case, and with the Wheaton College situation also taking cues from the decision, it looks like the case may continue to have an impact moving into the fall.
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