Once again, we owe Justice Antonin Scalia a debt of gratitude for taking the time to die before he could further regress the nation.
While the court just as easily could have struck down Obamacare's mandate for birth control coverage today, the evenly-divided court sent the case of Zubik v. Burwell back to the lower federal court system; stating that they are expressing no views on the merit of the religious exemption case.
"The court expresses no view on the merits of the cases," the opinion stated. "In particular, the court does not decide whether petitioners' religious exercise has been substantially burdened, whether the government has a compelling interest, or whether the current regulations are the least restrictive means of serving that interest."
What happens now? The issue will more than likely end up in front of the Supreme Court again in the next year or two.
The justices appear to be under the illusion that the religious right is capable of agreeing to a compromise with the Obama administration or the next presidential administration, but if they do agree to a compromise, I'll eat my hat. The religious right can't even agree on the meaning of words.
It may go without saying, but this is one more reason to vote for a Democrat in November. This election will decide the fate of access to birth control for millions of women. It's also one more reason why Senate Republicans will not confirm or even hold a hearing on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.
Garland certainly appears to be an impartial, moderate judge who believes words have meaning. That's a big problem for Republicans who've dedicated themselves to rendering words meaningless.
Republicans don't believe they can win a case like Zubik v. Burwell on merit. If they did, they would have already confirmed Garland. Their blockade of his confirmation exposes how weak their arguments are.