Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a blistering dissent opposing the conservative majority’s decision to let small, private companies refuse to pay for health insurance that covers birth control.
In a dissent that was partly joined by the court’s three other liberal justices, Ginsburg warned the court’s decision to strike down the contraception coverage requirement under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act is “bound to have untoward effects.”
Ginsburg took particular issue with the conservative justices’ decision that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) could apply to private companies. The goal of that statute is aimed at stopping laws that burden a person’s First Amendment right to practice their religion.
Her dissent says the application of RFRA to a private corporation — instead of an individual or a church — is unprecedented.
“Until this litigation, no decision of this Court recognised a for-profit corporation’s qualification for a religious exemption from a generally applicable law, whether under the Free Exercise Clause or RFRA,” she wrote. “The absence of such precedent is just what one would expect, for the exercise of religion is characteristic of natural persons, not artificial legal entities.”
This new precedent “invites for-profit entities to seek religion-based exemptions from regulations they deem offensive to their faith,” she wrote, adding that some religious corporations may refuse to pay for vaccines.
Ginsburg added, “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.“
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