Biden Pledges to Reverse Supreme Court Ruling on Religious Liberty

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July 9, 2020

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Wednesday pledged to undo the Supreme Court's decision in favor of religious liberty for the Little Sisters of the Poor.

"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," Biden said.

This week the Supreme Court ruled that the Little Sisters of the Poor, a charitable religious group of nuns, could not be compelled to cover the cost of contraception for employees.

In 2017, the Trump administration instituted a wide-ranging rule that allowed religious employers not to offer contraception coverage, after the Obama administration had run into legal trouble for its contraceptive mandate. Two states sued and a judge issued a preliminary injunction stopping the Trump administration's rule from going into effect, but the Court found that the administration has broad discretion to decide what exemptions to offer and what to mandate.

The Court's ruling in favor of religious organizations comes after the 2014 decision Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. that Biden mentioned. The Court ruled in that case that family-owned businesses could opt out of mandatory contraceptive coverage because of religious objections.

In addition to returning to Obama's original policy, Biden has also promised to codify Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision finding a constitutional right to abortion.

Catholic groups criticized Biden for targeting religious employers.

"Joe Biden has removed any remaining doubt about how his administration would mistreat and marginalize Catholics if elected," Catholic Vote president Brian Burch told the Washington Free Beacon. "From his support for taxpayer-funded pro-abortion extremism, to his pledge to continue to harass the Little Sisters of the Poor, Biden will be a wrecking ball against all things that Catholics hold dear."

Maureen Ferguson, a senior fellow with the Catholic Association, said that a vote for Biden is a vote "to force Catholic nuns to facilitate distribution of contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs under threat of massive government fines."