Religious freedom concerns continue despite SCOTUS Obamacare decision

Today’s Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act upheld the “individual mandate”–the requirement that virtually everyone must get health insurance or otherwise pay a penalty. But what about that other mandate–the contraceptives mandate that requires organizations’ health insurance plans for their employees to cover all FDA-approved contraceptive services, including sterilization and contraceptive drugs that some believe act as abortifacients?

The contraceptives mandate was not specifically before the Supreme Court but if the Court had struck down the law as unconstitutional, then this part of it, too, would have been voided.

Instead, the Court has upheld the law. Is the contraceptives mandate itself constitutional, or does it violate the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment? Does it violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act? The Supreme Court did not consider these questions.

However, now that the law has been upheld, other courts will be considering the legality and constitutionality of the contraceptives mandate–recall the many lawsuits challenging the contraceptives mandate that have been filed by Catholic and Protestant organizations, by religious businesses, by religious persons, and by states. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has a complete list of the cases.

What can religious institutions and individuals with concerns about the contraceptives mandate do?

Go here for IRFA’s memo for parachurch organizations, explaining the mandate, how it applies to different organizations, and what can be done. As action items, the memo notes a letter to the HHS Secretary, which has already been sent, and the possibility of commenting on the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking about a promised “accommodation” for non-church religious organizations that are not exempt from the mandate–the deadline for commenting is past (see the story below). Other options noted: file or join a lawsuit and press your objections on Congress.

One option not noted in the memo: Consider the contraceptives mandate and its treatment of religious organizations when evaluating candidates for federal offices. This does not “politicize” the issue but just acknowledges that Congress makes the laws and the President administers–with considerable discretion–those laws.

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  1. says

    In my humble opinion, since the contraceptives mandate was not specifically before the Supreme Court, the Plaintiffs against the Federal Govt., and the individual mandate, still have standing and should move forward with their case, on the basis that it violates their First Amendment rights.

    The court’s decision to deem the individual mandate to be a tax, now helps the American people to focus on not only the liberal policies of tax and spend, the very issues at the heart of our economic condition which many have described as so dire that it is a national security issue , but also the constant barrage of assaults on our Civil Liberties.

    After nearly four years of a liberal dominated government, Americans have gotten a taste of the ideological extremes of the two dominant political philosophies in our nation, and they should, if they haven’t already, lose faith in the liberal policies that have gotten us to the dreary point we are at today.

    Al l in all, I must say, the SCOTUS decision on Obamacare may well be the defining issue, on which Barack Hussein Obama lost the presidency and that the liberal/progressive base of the Democrat Party turned themselves in to the minority Party for years to come.

    The American voters are extraordinarily polarized.
    If truly concerned about the future of our country, we as activists should help disillusioned Democrats to swing to the conservative side.
    If we are true Patriots, who love America and its Constitution, we MUST have a government that does less, spends less, and controls less.