There was loaded language right from sentence one in Adam Liptak's lead story for Friday's New York Times, "Birth Control Deepens Divide Among Justices."
Liptak, the paper's Supreme Court reporter, covered the emergency injunction issued by the Supreme Court on behalf of a Christian college in Illinois related to religious freedom and Obama-care. Briefly, the majority gave Wheaton College a reprieve from being forced to fill out forms to submit to insurers as an alternative way to deliver "free" contraception to employees/students under Obama-care. But Liptak managed to find a blunt violation of "women's rights" in that complicated tangle.
In a decision that drew an unusually fierce dissent from the three female justices, the Supreme Court sided Thursday with religiously affiliated nonprofit groups in a clash between religious freedom and women’s rights.
So a college's unwillingness to sign a form to enable an insurer to deliver free contraception to employees and students is a violation of "women's rights"? Yet the women are not being denied birth control, since they are free to pay for contraception themselves, or even have the government provide it free under a different method. (This is also not the final word from the Supreme Court on the issue, though it made the paper's lead slot anyway.)
Liptak then basically handed dictation over to Obama-appointed Justice Sonia Sotomayor, simply quoting chunks of her "fiery" dissent as received wisdom.
The decision temporarily exempts a Christian college from part of the regulations that provide contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
The court’s order was brief, provisional and unsigned, but it drew a furious reaction from the three female members, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. The order, Justice Sotomayor wrote, was at odds with the 5-to-4 decision on Monday in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, which involved for-profit corporations.
“Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word,” Justice Sotomayor wrote. “Not so today.”
The court’s action, she added, even “undermines confidence in this institution.”
Monday’s decision and the order on Thursday were dual blows to the Obama administration’s efforts to provide contraception coverage, said Walter Dellinger, who was acting United States solicitor general in the Clinton administration.
The college objected to coverage of intrauterine devices and so-called morning-after pills, saying they were akin to abortion. Many scientists disagree.
The majority opinion there, written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., seemed to suggest that the forms could play a role in an arrangement that was an acceptable alternative to having employers pay for the coverage. Under the arrangement, insurance companies that receive the forms pay for the coverage on the theory that it costs no more to provide contraception than to pay for pregnancies..”
Justice Sotomayor said the college’s analysis was misguided on several levels. “The sincerity of Wheaton’s deeply held religious beliefs is beyond refute,” she wrote. “But as a legal matter, Wheaton’s application comes nowhere near the high bar necessary to warrant an emergency injunction from this court.”
The Wheaton suit invoked the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, the same law that was at issue in Hobby Lobby. The law applies when the government subjects religious practices to a “substantial burden.” The college said it should not be second-guessed by the government.
Justice Sotomayor disagreed. “Let me be absolutely clear,” she wrote. “I do not doubt that Wheaton genuinely believes that signing the self-certification form is contrary to its religious beliefs. But thinking one’s religious beliefs are substantially burdened -- no matter how sincere or genuine that belief may be -- does not make it so.”
In all, over one-third of Liptak's story either quoted or summarized Sotomayor's dissent.