The James Wilson Foundation on Natural Rights and the American Founding

“The Little Sisters and the Court: Muddling Through”: Prof. Hadley Arkes in The Catholic Thing

In his recent essay in The Catholic Thing, Professor Hadley Arkes comments on the Supreme Court’s recent ruling regarding The Little Sisters of the Poor and what the ruling means for them as well as similar organizations. The ruling has created a peculiar situation for religious organizations. He notes that the Supreme Court did not deal with the question of religious exemption from providing birth control itself, rather they kicked the rock down the road and left the issue to be decided by future administrations. He also comments on the logic of the sort of universal birth control coverage that the left seeks in their opposition to The Little Sisters of the Poor, a vision of coverage that does not tolerate any legitimate disagreement or exemption. Arkes argues that such a vision has no legal or legislative precedent- in the Affordable Care Act or otherwise.

Some quotations from the essay:

“With Justice Thomas writing, the Court held that the Trump Administration had not committed any foot-faults, or violations of administrative procedures, as it sought to exempt certain religious entities from the obligation to offer contraception and abortion to their employees.”

“[ACA] does not provide contraceptive coverage for women outside the home.  If Congress thought that there was a compelling need to make free contraceptives available for all women, why did it make no provision for women who do not receive a paycheck?”

“…if the aim of public policy was to diffuse contraceptives to the country, the Little Sisters of the Poor would be an implausible vehicle.  And yet, it is strangely no longer enough, for “progressives,” that the program be funded by the government as a public commitment. For them, it is even more exquisite and morally necessary that it be used as a lever to force the recanting or humbling of those insufferably religious people who offer the most serious moral resistance to the program.”

The full essay can be found here.

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Law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love, unless they first become the objects of our knowledge.
— James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1790