The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative-liberal split was in open display during arguments involving religious employers’ objections to covering contraceptives for their employees, Professor Rob Field wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer on March 24.
Covering the arguments for the Inquirer, Field explained that the challengers in Zubik v. Burwell object to a rule that lets religious groups opt out of an Affordable Care Act mandate to cover contraceptives without cost sharing. While churches are completely exempt from providing coverage, “religiously affiliated charities, like hospitals and universities, must submit a form that triggers coverage directly through their insurance plan.”
Religious groups challenging the rule “contend that it entangles them in providing contraceptive coverage, which violates their religious beliefs,” Field wrote.
Conservative justices asked questions that tilted toward the religious organizations’ view, Field observed, while the liberal justices focused on the potential for allowing religious groups to interfere in the functioning of government.
A recognized expert on health law and the Affordable Care Act and a contributor to the Inquirer's Health Cents blog, Field opened the article with a wry observation about the perennial legal wrangling over the controversial law.
“Cherry blossoms, daffodils and the first breath of spring can mean only one thing in the nation’s capital,” he wrote, “another Affordable Care Act case before the Supreme Court.”