So the moderate position on contraception is that nuns still have to comply with a mandate for it? Joe Biden wants to position himself in a general election as someone who can bridge the gap between the Left and the … well, not-so-Left in reality, but more someone who can bring sense and sanity back to public policy. And that means, in Biden’s mind, that the most obviously insane outcome of the Obama administration’s contraception-mandate policy must immediately be restored.
In other words, the Little Sisters of the Poor will still need all that legal help:
I am disappointed in today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that will make it easier for the Trump-Pence Administration to continue to strip health care from women – attempting to carve out broad exemptions to the Affordable Care Act’s commitment to giving all women free access to recommended contraception.
As a result of the Affordable Care Act, more than 60 million women – including at least 32 million women of color – gained access to this preventative health care. The Obama-Biden Administration did this while also providing an exemption for houses of worship and an accommodation for nonprofit organizations with religious missions.
As disappointing as the Supreme Court’s ruling is, there is a clear path to fixing it: electing a new President who will end Donald Trump’s ceaseless attempts to gut every aspect of the Affordable Care Act. If I am elected, I will restore the Obama-Biden policy that existed before the Hobby Lobby ruling: providing an exemption for houses of worship and an accommodation for nonprofit organizations with religious missions. The accommodation will allow women at these organizations to access contraceptive coverage, not through their employer-provided plan, but instead through their insurance company or a third-party administrator.
In the first place, Biden clearly hasn’t read Clarence Thomas’ opinion yesterday on Little Sisters v Pennsylvania. It didn’t actually rule in favor of the exemption granted to the Little Sisters as a matter of law; it only ruled that HHS had full authority to craft the exemption. Thomas avoided the RFRA issue entirely, likely because he didn’t have John Roberts on board for a final settlement of the dispute, but also because the court has ruled on that in the past. The mandate itself is not based in statute but regulation, and the court has already ruled that the Obama-era policies intruded too far on free exercise of religious belief. Hobby Lobby forced HHS to revise its policies, and the court didn’t even entertain the religious-exercise issues that the new policy does or does not present.
This statement makes it sound like Biden only read the media reports on Little Sisters. That’s a big mistake; the hysterical coverage made it sound like Thomas had broadly cut out a swath of religious exemptions. What Biden is actually objecting to in this case is Thomas’ affirmation of Biden’s authority should he win the election. Little Sisters confirmed that the next administration can set whatever policies it likes (with Hobby Lobby being a boundary), since Congress didn’t create the contraception mandate itself. How that is “disappointing” is a question only Biden himself can answer.
Still, this serves to remind us just how radical the previous administration was in its pursuit of employer-provided contraception. It even wanted to force Catholic nuns to provide it or to comply with a shameful dodge that would have allowed their insurance carrier to comply in their stead. In any rational world, a diktat forcing nuns to provide contraception as a condition of providing aid to the poor and dying would be the stuff of satire. In this declaration, Biden proves that he himself is the stuff of satire — and that his administration would be just as radical as the previous one, if not more so given the people driving Team Biden now.