A divided Supreme Court today allowed, at least for now, an evangelical college in Illinois that objects to paying for contraceptives in its health plan to avoid filling out a government document that the college says would violate its religious beliefs. The justices said that Wheaton College does not have to fill out the contested form while its case is on appeal. Instead, it can write the Department of Health and Human Services declaring that it is a religious nonprofit organization and that it objects to emergency contraception. The college does provide coverage for other birth control.
The unsigned brief drew what the New York Times describes as a "furious reaction" from the court's three female justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. They said they would have denied Wheaton's request and made the college fill out a form that enables their insurers or third-party administrators to take on the responsibility of paying for the birth control. “Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word,” says the dissent written by Sotomayor. “Not so today.” She was referring to this week's Hobby Lobby case, which "seemed to suggest" that the forms were an OK alternative for employers who objected to paying for coverage, reports the Times. Wheaton contends that even that goes too far. (Read more Affordable Care Act stories.)