This past Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled, in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, that corporations, which are operated by only a few religiously devout owners, and where it is difficult to differentiate between the company and the owners, can avoid paying for contraceptives in the company-sponsored health plan. The three Female Justices–Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, along with Justice David Breyer–dissented from the ruling. The five Conservative Justices carried the day, agreeing with the Hobby Lobby chain of hobby and craft stores.
It is important to remember that the current Roberts’ Court is known for ruling on very narrowly-defined cases and, then, using that as precedent to expand the original ruling even further. On Thursday, July 3, SCOTUS sided with conservative Wheaton College, a Christian school in Illinois, ruling that it, at least temporarily, does not have to provide free contraceptives to employees or students as part of its health plan. It is projected that as many as 100 other similar cases, which had been defeated in the past, might be reconsidered–but mostly in lower Courts.
In the original ruling on Monday, Justice Samuel Alito suggested that the Women could still receive contraceptives which would be paid for by the health insurer or a third party plan. Weaton College, and no doubt other organizations that are appealing will follow suit, had stated that the necessary paperwork to enable that alternative solution would also require it to in effect endorse contraceptives. Apparently, SCOTUS will reconsider that requirement. The three Female Justices are up in arms, stating that there is a strong divide on the Court. They furthermore state that SCOTUS has now ventured into real “minefield”.
Consider that this now expanded ruling, after only three days, might encourage other religious groups to appeal to the courts in order to seek an exception to the Affordable Care Act, since their religious beliefs do not approve of: blood transfusions; HPV vaccinations or, in fact, health care at all. The linked article, from the Washington Post, that discusses the potential extension of Monday’s ruling, is as follows: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/2014/07/03/622f7b12-02f8-11e4-8572-4b1b969b6322_story.html?wpisrc=nl%5Fhdtop.
Now, what if we take this one step further? Let’s assume that various Terrorist Groups, such as the Taliban, establish an American shell corporation in order to fund their militant activities in the Middle East. So why can’t their American lawyers appeal to the Courts for an exception to ACA, based on their religious beliefs that Polio vaccination is against God’s Law. They kill in Pakistan to enforce that belief: why not sue in New York or Washington to do the same?
We know that Terrorists Groups do have funding and recruiting offshoots here in the states already. The New Yorker has an article, “When Taliban meets Hobby Lobby”, which discusses a potential scenario, is linked as follows: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2014/07/when-the-taliban-meets-hobby-lobby.html.
I do not wish to subscribe to a conspiracy theory, that the Conservatives on SCOTUS might actually utilize such a methodology in using a narrowly-defined ruling in order to decide for a subsequent expansion of the issue at hand. However, the fact that such an extension was ruled on, in just three days after the initial ruling, is certainly difficult to believe is merely a happenstance. Furthermore, some of these arguments, regarding various widely-held religious beliefs, and the predictions that this whole issue could really raise a number of similar issues, should have been considered before Monday’s ruling. Remember that the oral arguments on this case were heard several months ago.