They objected to filling out a one-page form

In January, the columnist Jamie Stiehm wrote in US News & World Report:

Et tu, Justice Sonia Sotomayor? Really, we can’t trust you on women’s health and human rights? The lady from the Bronx just dropped the ball on American women and girls as surely as she did the sparkling ball at midnight on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Or maybe she’s just a good Catholic girl.

The Supreme Court is now best understood as the Extreme Court. One big reason why is that six out of nine Justices are Catholic. Let’s be forthright about that. (The other three are Jewish.) Sotomayor, appointed by President Obama, is a Catholic who put her religion ahead of her jurisprudence. What a surprise, but that is no small thing.

In a stay order applying to an appeal by a Colorado nunnery, the Little Sisters of the Poor, Justice Sotomayor undermined the new Affordable Care Act’s sensible policy on contraception. She blocked the most simple of rules – lenient rules – that required the Little Sisters to affirm their religious beliefs against making contraception available to its members. They objected to filling out a one-page form.

She did? That’s odd, since she wrote an opinion objecting to the same thing just a couple of days ago. I’m confused.

Well maybe it’s because the situation is different after the Hobby Lobby ruling. The Washington Post seems to be saying that:

After the Hobby Lobby decision, the court sent back for reconsideration by lower courts cases that involved companies whose owners say their religious beliefs do not allow them to offer any contraceptives.

And the Wheaton College case is one of dozens that object to a compromise the Obama administration has offered to religious organizations, hospitals and ­colleges.

Under this arrangement, the groups are required to fill out a form, EBSA Form 700, to register their religious objections. This enables their insurers or third-party administrators to take on the responsibility of paying for the birth control. The organizations do not have to pay for the coverage, and the cost is borne by the government or in other ways.

But some of the colleges and organizations say that signing the form authorizes the third parties to provide the contraceptive coverage, making them complicit in actions that offend their religious beliefs.

Summoning all the lawyers to explain.


  1. screechymonkey says

    In the Little Sisters of the Poor case, Justice Sotomayor’s order was just a temporary stay for a few days until the whole Court could consider the request for an injunction.

    The Court then did issue an injunction, in a short unsigned order with no recorded dissent. That could mean that Sotomayor voted for the full injunction as well, but you could say that the non-Catholic justices, too.

  2. Blanche Quizno says

    We are all to understand and sympathize that these Christian-run corporations/organizations are just so very troubled by the idea of contraception that the very thought of it gives them a life-threatening case of the vapours and renders them incapable of even holding a pen, much less signing anything. It’s just that important to their personal health, you see, as corporations and organizations, to be able to excuse themselves from such difficult and troubling discussions. Take it elsewhere. We all must understand. The corporations’/organizations’ health is at stake, and they are so very fragile that way.

    We are also to understand and sympathize when these Christian-run corporations/organizations adopt policies that demonstrate their opinions that for women to have no choice but to become pregnant, carry a pregnancy to term, and give birth is nowhere even close to the level of hardship, discomfort, and distress these Christian-run organizations/corporations would have to face in just *thinking* about contraception. We all must understand. No one else’s health, hardship, or discomfort comes anywhere close to the level of importance of Christian-run organizations’/corporations’ opinions and desire to be allowed to excuse themselves from every aspect of the law that everyone else is required to follow. Because Christian-run corporations and organizations are so very special, you see, that they shouldn’t have to follow laws – they’re above the law. Their religion says so.

    And, thus, the rest of us must obey O_O

  3. karmacat says

    None of it makes sense. Employees can use their salary to pay for contraceptives. Are they can stop paying their employees just so they don’t buy contraceptives. I would love to know how they treat their employees who are pregnant. But then some probably think women shouldn’t work outside the home. And what about he women who use contraceptives for other reasons. These people are saying that these women just have to be sacrificed on the alter of “religious purity.”

  4. Pteryxx says

    karmacat: firings for (unwed) pregnancy actually happen quite a lot.

    Despite the fact that Evenson’s principal has called her an “excellent teacher,” officials at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena, which oversees Evenson’s school, are standing by their decision. They contend that sex outside of marriage violates the morality clause in the teaching contract Evenson signed. On Thursday, Patrick Haggarty, the superintendent of Catholic schools for the diocese, told the Montana Standard, “It’s not easy being a Christian or a Catholic in today’s world. Our faith asks us to do things that right now are not popular with society.”

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    Why haven’t any of these fine Christo-corporations registered any similar resistance to taxes for wars?

  6. carlie says

    Ophelia, were you the one who posted the Betty Bowers image? In it, she comments on how these religious corporations who consider themselves people might not be so happy about it if they had to tithe to the church…

  7. carlie says

    Good lord, right there on the page after scrolldown. I thought I had seen it on twitter. I’ll go sit in the corner and think about what I did.

  8. sqlrob says

    I hope there’s an executive order issued that really puts these religious objections to the test.

    Insurance companies are required to charge more for policies without contraception coverage. Hell, I’m surprised they don’t already, given that prenatal and child care is expensive.

  9. Paul C says

    Not from the USA, so I’m not sure how this works. Do you have to accept your employers health insurance, or can you just get the money-value instead and get your own via the insurance exchanges?

    Also, surely a “take it or leave it” ruling would be legal? If you don’t like the ObamaCare insurance mandates, don’t offer employer insurance at all and let your employees get their own. If that means you have to offer higher wages to attract employees, then you need to make a business descision as to which choice offends your beliefs more.

  10. carlie says

    Not from the USA, so I’m not sure how this works. Do you have to accept your employers health insurance, or can you just get the money-value instead and get your own via the insurance exchanges?

    You can get your own, but a) the cost is generally much higher than even the entire amount from your employer because they benefit from reduced-cost negotiated rates, and b) most employers do not give you any compensation for not using their health plan. One of the things Obamacare was supposed to do was to lower the differential between self-insured (buying your own policy) and employer provided, but it’s still not an even playing field yet.

  11. leni says

    @ Paul C, following up on what Carlie said- employers can bargain group rates that are much lower than individuals can typically get. If they paid you the value of the plan, it would probably not be nearly enough to cover a new plan and would also leave you vulnerable to denial of service for pre-existing conditions.

    The Affordable Care Act was intended to mitigate some of that.

  12. leni says

    Oh shoot, I intended to put dollar values in there to give you an idea and then completely forgot about it. My last full coverage plan though an employer was about $300 per month, if I remember right (about 5 years ago). Before the Affordable act, a plan for me (single person, no dependents and no major medical issues) would have been on the order of $600/month.

    Definitely not a good deal for me.

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