PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Supreme Court once again wades into the dispute that pits a woman’s access to birth control against religious freedom. The justices heard oral arguments by phone Wednesday morning with one joining from the hospital.
The Supreme Court is considering whether the Trump administration went too far with a rule change allowing more employers to deny workers free contraceptive coverage.
“Not everybody who seeks the protection from coverage has the same objections so I wonder if the reliance in RFRA is too broad?” Chief Justice John Roberts said.
The Affordable Care Act requires most employer health insurance plans to cover birth control at no cost.
In 2017, a new Trump administration regulation allowed employers to opt out for religious reasons or a sincerely held moral conviction.
Pennsylvania and New Jersey challenged the rule.
“Religious organizations are already exempt. This is about whether some huge employer is able to deny women access to contraception because they believe it’s morally wrong,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.
Currently, groups that object to birth control coverage on religious grounds can opt out of paying for contraceptives, and the insurance company or government will step in to pay.
The Catholic nonprofit Little Sisters of the Poor say, that’s not enough.
“That form acts as a permission slip. The Little Sisters of the Poor are saying, please just keep us out of that,” SAID.
The Supreme Court has weighed in on the ACA’s contraceptive requirement twice already, including in the 2014 Hobby Lobby case, ruling family-owned companies that object on religious grounds can opt out.
“The idea that the balance has to be all for the Little Sisters-type organizations and not at all for the women, it just seems to me to rub against our history of accommodation, of tolerance and of respect for divergent views,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said.
Justice Ginsburg asked her questions from a Baltimore hospital, where she’s being treated for a benign gall bladder condition.
This week marks the first time the Supreme Court has allowed live coverage of its oral arguments.