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Supreme Court Refuses Women's Health and Wellness Act Appeal

The United States Supreme Court has turned down the appeal in Catholic Charities v. Dinallo, No. 06-1550. Here's a snippet from the New York Times:

The birth control case was brought by Catholic Charities in Albany and eight other New York-based Catholic and Baptist organizations. All the organizations, as part of their religious mission, operate educational and social service programs, like schools and nursing homes, that serve the general public.

They argued that they should be exempted, on religious freedom grounds, from a New York law, the Women's Health and Wellness Act. The Legislature passed the law in 2002 after finding that the typical employee health insurance coverage left women with greater uncovered expenses because of the common exclusion of contraceptive coverage. The law provides that if employers choose to cover prescription drugs, the plan must include prescription contraceptives for women.

The law includes an exemption for "religious employers," precisely defined as a nonprofit organization that seeks to inculcate "religious values;" that "primarily employs" people of its religious faith; and that "serves primarily" those who share that faith. There is no debate that organizations that challenged the law do not qualify for the exemption.

Rather, they argued that the law placed them in a "religiously untenable position" because, on the one hand, they felt a religious obligation to provide "just wages and benefits," while on the other hand, they had a "theologically grounded" objection to birth control. The state was improperly seeking to "coerce a church entity to finance private conduct that the church teaches is morally wrong," the organizations told the justices.

The full Times Article is here. Docket information on the case is here, although as of this writing it has not been updated to include yesterday's refusal.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 2, 2007 6:30 AM.

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