The Obamacare Contraception Mandate Survives, For Now

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

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.

  • The best thing Scalia ever did for the country was to die. (Harsh, but true.)

  • muselet

    This issue will never go away.

    It will come up through the federal courts again and again, each time phrased slightly differently, each time with the litigants raising subtly different legal arguments, because the fetus fetishists will never take “no” for an answer. And each time the central argument will be “But we don’t wanna!” (accompanied by a stamped foot).

    Perhaps a slighly more progressive Court would reduce the number of these temper tantrums masquerading as serious legal arguments, but I doubt it. A slighly more progressive Court would, though, produce far fewer absurd rulings on the subject of women’s health. Donald Trump is not going to nominate justices who are progressives.

    Anyone who thinks there’s no difference between the Ds and the Rs generally, or between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump specifically, simply isn’t paying attention.


  • Dread_Pirate_Mathius

    If/When Hillary wins and they quickly confirm him (lest Hillary nominate someone more liberal vs a more liberal Senate), I wonder what their justification will be.

    It’s going to be a thing of beautiful watching them try to pretend they aren’t playing politics with the Court.

    I hope Obama pulls the nomination as soon as exit polls make a win certain.

    • Nefercat

      Better yet would be Garland himself withdrawing his name from nomination, saying that he would have been happy to serve, but now that “the people have spoken” (again!), he thinks President-elect Clinton should nominate her own candidate.