Supreme Court justices listen to arguments via teleconference for contraceptive coverage case

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Supreme Court heard arguments via teleconference on a high profile case of church versus state.

The international Little Sisters of the Poor religious group says the government should not be able to force nuns to provide birth control coverage in their employees’ insurance.

“They can only get contraceptive coverage only from paying out of their own pocket,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said.

Ginsburg joined the call from the hospital. The court’s oldest member and liberal-thinker is recovering from a gallbladder issue, which isn’t considered life-threatening.

“You have just tossed, entirely to the wind, what Congress thought was essential. That is that women be provided these services with no hassle, no cost to them,” Ginsburg said.

“Respectfully, your honor, I think I would disagree,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco said.

Francisco says the Trump administration supports the Little Sisters of the Poor.

“There’s nothing in the [Affordable Care Act], as this court recognized in Hobby Lobby, that requires contraception coverage,” Francisco said.

Paul Clement, the attorney for the religious group, argued that the requirement creates a significant financial burden on the Roman Catholic religious order.

“When the ‘or else’ is massive penalties, that plainly provides a substantial burden on religious exercise,” Clement said.

Pennsylvania State Attorney General Michael Fischer argued against the group, saying the Trump administration went too far when it changed the rules.

“The prior rules struck a balance that permitted objecting employers to opt out but still allowed their female employees to receive coverage,” Fischer said.

A ruling in this case is expected this summer.

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