The Supreme Court sought a compromise Tuesday that would let religious non-profit groups avoid any involvement in offering insurance coverage for contraceptives while also ensuring that employees get the coverage.
The justices asked lawyers on both sides in seven cases, which were heard last Wednesday, to submit additional briefs on the subject within the next few weeks.
It was a clear indication that at least one member of the court — most likely Justice Anthony Kennedy — is seeking a way out of yet another 4-4 decision that would set no national precedent. The high court has issued two such divided opinions in the past eight days following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death last month.
“The parties are directed to address whether contraceptive coverage could be provided to petitioners’ employees, through petitioners’ insurance companies, without any such notice from petitioners,” the order read.
The cases, including one filed by the Little Sisters of the Poor, test whether religiously-affiliated employers such as charities, hospitals and universities must file a form or write a letter to get out of offering free coverage for birth control. The groups say even that level of involvement violates their religious beliefs.
“This is an excellent development. Clearly the Supreme Court understood the Sisters’ concern that the government’s current scheme forces them to violate their religion,” said Mark Rienzi, lead attorney for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “We look forward to offering alternatives that protect the Little Sisters’ religious liberty while allowing the government to meet its stated goals.”
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SOURCE: USA Today