Religious Freedom Wins Twofer from Supreme Court

Religious Freedom Wins Twofer from Supreme Court

Religious Freedom Wins Twofer from Supreme Court

On Wednesday, religious freedom took not just one, but two, wins via Supreme Court rulings. Surprisingly, the votes weren’t even close; both were 7-2 decisions.

Let’s start with the first decision.

In Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Bereu; and in St. James School v. Darryl Biel, SCOTUS ruled that job discrimination laws do not apply to teachers at religious schools. In both those cases, two Catholic schools were sued by teachers whom the schools had dismissed. In St. James, Kristen Biel sued St. James School after she developed breast cancer, and the school did not renew her contract. She sued under the Americans With Disabilities Act, but died last year. Plus, in Our Lady, Agnes Morrissey-Berru sued that Catholic school when they also failed to renew her contract. In her case, she alleged age discrimination.

Such lawsuits have had precedence: in 2012, the Supreme Court decided unanimously in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission for the Lutheran School. In that case, teacher Cheryl Perich claimed the school fired her because of narcolepsy. However, the court ruled in favor of the school.

In Tabor, Chief Justice John Roberts had described the situation this way, writing:

“The interest of society in the enforcement of employment discrimination statutes is undoubtedly important. But so, too, is the interest of religious groups in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith and carry out their mission.”

That “ministerial exception” held sway in St. James and Our Lady. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

Then another victory for religious freedom dropped when SCOTUS ruled that employers could opt out of providing contraceptive coverage on religious or moral grounds. In Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, SCOTUS concluded that a religious exemption from mandated contraceptive coverage wasn’t just for houses of worship anymore. Now it extends to places like schools and hospitals that have religious connections. Not only that, but the ruling also carved out exceptions for moral objections. Employers “with sincerely held moral convictions opposed to coverage of some or all contraceptive or sterilization methods” are also exempt.

And once again, Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor provided the dissenting voices. In their dissent, they wrote:

“Today for the first time, the court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests in its zeal to secure religious rights to the nth degree.”

“Religious rights to the nth degree?” Talk about a dismissive attitude toward the First Amendment.

religious freedom

Credit: Marco Verch/flickr/CC BY 2.0.

Ginsburg and Sotomayor also complained that the ruling “leaves women workers to fend for themselves.”

The New York Times also whined:

“As a consequence of the ruling, about 70,000 to 126,000 women could lose contraceptive coverage from their employers, according to government estimates.”

Cry me a river. advises women how to obtain free birth control without insurance. claims it works with providers to find affordable contraceptive medication. In addition, the website Pandia Health says they can find free birth control for women.

In other words, women might have to do some searching. But isn’t that what the Internet is for?

These two rulings are big wins for those who cherish religious freedom, as well as for the Trump administration. And if First Amendment liberties are important to you, then you’ll know how important it is to re-elect President Trump this November, even if you have to hold your nose to do so. A President Biden will not nominate judges or justices who will defend your religious freedom, and that should make liberty-loving Americans shudder.


Featured image: Religious Liberty statue, Philadelphia/Griffin Boyce/flickr/cropped/CC BY 2.0.

Written by

Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!

1 Comment
  • Politically Ambidextrous says:

    This is a good decision. It stops the government from forcing organizations to act in violation of their deeply held moral and religious beliefs.

    More importantly, it puts the “what is supported in our employee benefits package” into the marketplace for talent. There simply needs to be transparency on this topic; no misunderstandings, no surprises for employees or prospective employees.

    And this is before the consideration that a company’s employee benefits package is a part of the “product value proposition” (like other employee-related topics like “made in the USA” or “made with union labor”). This will attract or repel people on either side of the topic. And many more won’t care either way.

    I wonder if the companies’ insurance costs will go down because there are fewer things now covered, or if they will go up, because of an increased chance of pregnancy? If they were to increase, then that would certainly ensure sincerity.

    How many businesses will develop a strong moral affiliation with the Church of Christ, Scientist?

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