Some thoughts one day after a big victory for religious freedom and freedom of conscience

By Dave Andrusko

Yesterday NRL News Today wrote a lengthy analysis of the victory for religious freedom and the right of conscience the Supreme Court delivered in a 7-2 decision. The justices concluded that the Little Sisters of the Poor are not bound by a mandate, issued by HHS under a provision of ObamaCare, that would force them to provide health insurance coverage for products and procedures they find morally unacceptable.

To be clear, the two very liberal justices who joined in had plenty of caveats (they agreed with the results, but not with the five-member majority’s reasoning), and it is clear they are itching for a rematch once the lower courts look again at the 2017 HHS rule that was at the heart  of the case.

Today we’ll discuss some of the follow-up from those who were not happy.

We needn’t dally over Planned Parenthood’s response. “I’m furious,” said Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson, adding that she thinks the “Supreme Court decision is just plain wrong.”

“It upholds the administration’s horrible rules that allow employers and universities to push their religious or moral beliefs on employees and students…”

Dahlia Lithwick writes for Slate and is relentlessly pro-abortion and very suspicious about freedom of religion, at least when it applies to traditionalists. But prior to the decision, back in May, she acknowledged the sterling character of the litigants. 

“The Little Sisters of the Poor, a Roman Catholic charitable religious order,” she wrote “is doing particularly heroic work to save the elderly, the dying, and the poor during the current COVID-19 crisis….” That acknowledgment fell by the wayside in her Wednesday story.

NPR took that non-recognition one major step further. Writing for Newsbusters, Joseph Vazquez explained that their name never made it into Nina Totenberg’s account. 

“Public radio hid that the left was trying to force a religious order to violate its faith,” he wrote. Totenberg “provided hardly any historical background on the case,” he went on. 

“She made no mention of the Little Sisters of the Poor, or that it was a group of Catholic nuns who were being bullied by state powers. ….In fact, Totenberg didn’t even mention the name of the case itself. That would have brought up the nuns.”

What about the networks? Nicholas Fondacaro, also writing for Newsbusters, noted

Meanwhile, on ABC’s World News Tonight, anchor David Muir teed up correspondent Terry Moran by noting, “this was a big win for religious conservatives and the President” (as if it was the only win they had all session).

Agreeing that it was “a huge win,” Moran noted that the Trump-era regulations that spurred the court case allowed employers who had religious objections to opt-out of providing coverage. But he seemed to huff about employers opting out over “just moral objections to providing that kind of coverage.”

Worth considering is that it is not just Justices Kagan and Breyer who are counting down the days until a lower court will tell the High Court what these two (and the two dissenters) want to hear: that the HHS exemptions for the Little Sisters and other religious non-profits were “arbitrary and capricious.” 

The same people who want pro-lifers and/or people of faith to roll over when a decision they disapprove of comes down can’t wait to run back to court to “prove” that yesterday’s decision was an aberration—just “politics” by the Trump Administration.