Courthouse Steps Oral Argument Teleforum: Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania

Listen & Download

The oral argument for this case will be held on May 6, 2020. At issue are: (1) Whether a litigant who is directly protected by an administrative rule and has been allowed to intervene to defend it lacks standing to appeal a decision invalidating the rule if the litigant is also protected by an injunction from a different court; and (2) whether the federal government lawfully exempted religious objectors from the regulatory requirement to provide health plans that include contraceptive coverage.

Featuring: 

Mark Rienzi, President, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty; Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Center for Religious Liberty, Catholic University; Visiting Professor, Harvard Law School

Event Transcript

[Music]

 

Dean Reuter:  Welcome to Teleforum, a podcast of The Federalist Society's practice groups. I’m Dean Reuter, Vice President, General Counsel, and Director of Practice Groups at The Federalist Society. For exclusive access to live recordings of practice group teleforum calls, become a Federalist Society member today at fedsoc.org.

 

 

Greg Walsh:  Welcome to The Federalist Society's Teleforum conference call. This afternoon's topic is titled, "Courthouse Steps Oral Argument Teleforum: Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania." My name is Greg Walsh and I am Assistant Director of Practice Groups at The Federalist Society.

 

As always, please note that all expressions of opinion are those of the experts on today's call.

 

Today, we are fortunate to have with us Mr. Mark Rienzi, President of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Catholic University, and a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School.

 

After our speaker gives his opening remarks, we will go to audience Q&A. Thank you for sharing with us today. Mr. Rienzi, the floor is yours.

 

Mark Rienzi:  Great. Thanks, Greg. And thanks to everybody for taking a few minutes to dial in and hear about the Little Sisters of the Poor argument this morning.

 

What I want to do is basically give a short overview of the argument. There are really three different laws that the parties were arguing about and the justices were asking questions about. Give you a few reactions to the questions and answers that we heard today, and then open it up for your questions to the best I can -- see how well I can answer them.

 

Overall, my view is it was a really good day for the Little Sisters at the Court. Let me run through the different parts of the case and why that is and what we heard from the justices.

 

      So there are really three different laws that got attention today in this argument. And the argument ran long, which is unusual for the Supreme Court, and I think really just a function of the odd format that we're dealing with right now. I think the argument got close to an hour and a half, and usually things are pretty tightly timed at the Court.

 

Most of the arguments the last couple days went an hour, hour ten or something like that. This one went longer, I think, because there were three advocates. There was Paul Clement representing my clients, Little Sisters of the Poor. There was Noel Francisco speaking for the United States Government, and there was Mike Fischer speaking for the States of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

 

And the justices were trying to go justice by justice, and I believe every justice asked a question of every advocate. So they went one through nine, in order of seniority, through each advocate, and that ended up taking quite a bit more time than they had originally scheduled it for.

 

There were three statutes that were the subject of attention in the questions and answers today. One, of course, is the Affordable Care Act. The entire fight over the contraceptive mandate begins with a regulation that was issued under the Affordable Care Act in 2011 by the Obama administration.

 

And so there was a lot of discussion between the justices and the parties about the scope of discretion that the Affordable Care Act gives to the federal agencies to decide what preventive services employers must provide.

 

On that subject, it was interesting. Pennsylvania made clear that they take a narrower view of the authority given by the Affordable Care Act to the government to create exemptions. They take a narrower view not only than the Trump administrationthat wasn't terribly surprisingbut also, they take a narrower view than the Obama administration.

 

So the Obama administration, right at the start of the contraceptive mandate, had said that they do think they have the authority to give religious exemptions. The fight with the Obama administration had always been the concern of many religious entities that those exemptions weren't nearly broad enough. But there was no dispute about whether they had the authority under the statute to give exemptions.

 

Pennsylvania took the position that they don't have authority under the statute to give religious exemptions at all, and they gave something of a defense of the original Church Exemption by saying well, maybe that's required by the First Amendment. I'm not sure how that would give the agency authority that it didn't have and it wouldn't just require the mandate to be stricken, but they didn't really get into that.

 

On the Little Sisters' side and on the federal government side, the argument was made that look, the statute says employers have to provide preventive care consistent with the guidelines that HRSA, the Health Resource Services Administration, which is a sub agency of HHS. The statute says that employers must provide the preventive services that HRSA provides for and guidelines and they support and promote.

 

And the federal government's argument—and the Little Sisters agreed with this—was that well, when Congress gives it to an agency and says whatever guidelines you support, whatever guidelines you think people should follow, that baked within that idea of the guidelines is the idea that the agency has some discretion. And the federal government, in particular, argued that HHS actually has decades of experience dealing with these types of, if not mandates then dealing with sometimes-sensitive healthcare issues that run into religious issues, and that they have got a long history of working out exemptions, and that they are actually well equipped to do that.

 

Noel Francisco, the Solicitor General, compared it to if Congress gave the Department of Defense the discretion to come up with a draft, guidelines for a draft, it would be pretty weird to think that the Department of Defense was not also allowed in the course of that to include provisions for how they'll deal with conscientious objectors.

 

So the first issue was the Affordable Care Act and it was that fight over discretion.

 

The second issue was the Administrative Procedure Act, and this goes to the States' argument that the federal government was not permitted under the APA to use the process it used to give the Little Sisters the religious exemption that it gave them.

 

And as I get to that point, I realize I should apologize to you because I started in the middle of the story. Let me back up and give you one minute of background which will make that make a little bit more sense.

 

Folks have been fighting over the contraceptive mandate since 2011 when the Obama administration first announced it. There has been litigation from then until now with very little interruption. Actually, I think no interruption. I think there have always been cases pending since November 1, 2011 until today.

 

That litigation has been to the Supreme Court several times. You may remember on New Year's Eve back in 2013 when she was -- I think Justice Sotomayor was actually taking an Amtrak train up to New York to drop the ball in Times Square with Miley Cyrus. But to her great credit, she also found the time to give The Little Sisters an emergency injunction on that New Year's Eve so that they didn't have to pay fines at midnight.

 

The contraceptive mandate has been to the Court several times since then. It was the subject of the litigation in Hobby Lobby. They granted cert on it again for the 2016 case of Zubik v. Burwell. But in the Zubik case, shortly before argument, Justice Scalia unfortunately passed away, and the eight-justice Court ended the Zubik case not with a substantive final merits-based ruling, but simply saying that the government couldn't fine the nuns, but that it seemed like the parties ought to be able to work something out.

 

And what we're back on is after the Trump administration worked things out by giving a religious exemption, and also by doing things like expanding Title X access to make contraceptive more available, several states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey in this case, sued the federal government and said you are not permitted to give religious exemptions like this, in part, saying that the process the government used was an APA violation.

 

And they said it was an APA violation because the government initially proceeded by an Interim Final Rule without notice and comment, and that having done that, even though they took comments after the fact, the rule, according to the States, was still impermissible because the initial action of using an invalid IFR, according to the States, rendered the Final Fule invalid as well.

 

That's a bit of a quick summary, but I think the bits you would need to know to understand the rest of it. So the argument today was over whether it violated the Administrative Procedure Act for the federal government to proceed in this way.

 

The most interesting aspect of that argument, I think, was Justice Kagan's line of questioning, which seemed to be pretty good for the Trump administration and for the religious objectors. Justice Kagan was asking questions about both the fact that this seems to be a relatively common process of doing Interim Final Rules followed by Final Rules, and then, in particular, the fact that this is also the process by which the contraceptive mandate itself came to be in place. And if the Court were to say that it was invalid to have the exemption come through this IFR followed by final rule process, wouldn't that lead them to have to also get rid of the contraceptive mandate itself?

 

There was also questioning from Justices Breyer and, I believe, Gorsuch about whether what the States were presenting wasn't really an arbitrary and capricious challenge under the APA, which they actually did not have in the case at this point. They don't have it in the part of the case as before the Supreme Court, but that ultimately it seemed that their arguments, they were phrased as contrary to law arguments.

 

That doesn't seem terribly persuasive based on the APA's use of the word "guidelines", but that really what they might be making is an argument that some aspects of the rule, at least at its broadest reaches, those might be arbitrary and capricious.

 

The last aspect that got attentionand certainly the one that my clients are most interested inis the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or RFRA. This is what has really been at the heart of the litigation since back in 2011 when it started.

 

And this is the argument that, while the Trump administration had to give this exemption because they were obligated to do so under RFRA. In other words, that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act instructs the federal government and all parts of the federal government that they must avoid imposing substantial burdens on religious exercise, unless they can prove that they can satisfy strict scrutiny.

 

And our argument in the cases was relatively simple, which is the Sisters understand that what is being asked of them is something they cannot do, right. The Sisters are being -- well, were being asked by the federal government before this new rule from the Trump administration, but they were being asked by the federal government and now, I think, Pennsylvania is trying to force them to sign forms that would give authorization and permission to other parties to use their health plan to give out contraception and abortion-inducing drugs and to pay for sterilizations.

 

The Sisters have said all along that they can't do that; that they understand that to be religiously forbidden. At times, critics of the Sisters have argued, "Well, you're just objecting to raising your hands." Or, "You're objecting to objecting." And the Sisters have always made clear that they don't have any objection to telling the government that they object. They object to telling the government when the government says, "Well, the only way you can tell me is if you sign it on this particular permission slip that allows me to use your plan."

 

So the Sisters presented that argument as why the government actually needed to give this religious exemption. I think it was clear from some of the questioning that the justices, having seen this case three or four times, depending on how you count, but three or four times before, seemed a little bit -- tired of it is probably not the right word, but maybe a little bit disappointed that we're here again and no resolution was able to be worked out.

 

From our point of view, a resolution actually was worked out; it's this rule. And the only problem is that Pennsylvania is trying to take back the religious exemption after the federal government did the right thing under RFRA.

 

Questioning from the Court on those issues. Chief Justice Roberts started by saying, "Well, if they could come up with a way to do this without hijacking your plan, would that be okay?" And Paul Clement answered for the Sisters that yes, they've never objected to systems that don't hijack their plan. In fact, the Sisters have always made clear that they're not trying to bar the pharmacy door or otherwise stop their employees from accessing this kind of coverage. The Sisters just say, "It just can't be part of my health plan."

 

And, of course, four years ago in the litigation with the Obama administration, the Obama administration ultimately acknowledged the Supreme Court in Zubik that it was going to be part of the same plan. That it wasn't quite separate from the Sisters' plan. It would be part of the same plan. They called it seamless. They said it had to be seamless with the plan.

 

There was also discussion with the justices and concern expressed by, for example, Justice Ginsburg -- and by the way, just as a side note, one nice aspect to doing Supreme Court arguments by telephone was that Justice Ginsburg, even though she was in the hospital in Baltimore, was actually able to participate, and I thought that was great. And we certainly wish her the very best for a quick recovery.

 

Justice Ginsburg raised the concern, and Justice Sotomayor raised the concern, and several other justices did, too. “Well, is this leaving women in a bad spot because then they won't be able to get the coverage that they may want or need?”

 

Paul Clement gave the answer to that and, actually, years before him the Obama administration gave it, too, which is that Obamacare has actually had a lot of exemptions for a very long time. Paul explained that grandfathering, for example, has been an exemption in the statute right from the beginning, and it has covered plans covering tens of millions of people.

 

There's also the original church exemption. There's also all of the injunctions that we won in the last round of the litigation. And despite all of that, no one has ever come forward and been able to identify anybody who can say, "Well, because of a religious exemption, I haven't been able to get the coverage."

 

In fact, as the Obama administration told the Supreme Court four years ago, if somebody doesn't get coverage from their employer, they will ordinarily get it from another source, such as a family member's plan, a state program, a government program, on the exchanges, and so forth.

 

And the fact of the matter is that by the time this case has gotten back to the Supreme Court, we've now lived for, depending on how you count it, at least seven or eight years of the contraceptive mandate in which all of these other exemptions have existed under the contraceptive mandate. And nobody can find anyone who is actually unable to get the coverage that they want because of a religious exemption.

 

That was stark enough that, at times, it has been presented as an argument for why Pennsylvania has no standing, and that got a little bit of discussion today. But I think, for the most part, it's mostly an argument about compelling interest and least-restrictive means. Namely, that well, if it really turns out that no one can find anybody who has been unable to get coverage because of all of these other bigger exemptions, then surely the government can't have a compelling interest in forcing the nuns to violate their religious beliefs, even though it seems like there's nobody who needs them to, or none of their employees is asking them to.

 

One last point on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ground -- I guess two last points, one, Justice Kagan, and then one from Justice Sotomayor. I thought it was particularly telling in the argument where Justice Kagan acknowledged in one of the questions that she understands that the Little Sisters aren't just objecting to objecting. They aren't just saying, "I refuse to raise my hand," but that it's something more and different. And the more and different, as we've said, is that the old system would use the Sisters' health plan in a way that the Sisters can't give permission and authorization for.

 

So having Justice Kagan clearly put to bed the argument that they're just objecting to objecting was a particularly good moment from my point of view.

 

There was also a discussion between Justice Sotomayor and the lawyer for Pennsylvania in which Justice Sotomayor said, "Wait. Since the Little Sisters have a religious insurance provider, or a religious benefits provider, called Christian Brothers and since the government can't actually force them to act on the Little Sisters' authorization form" -- in other words, even if the government can force the Sisters to sign the authorization form, the government, under RFRA, doesn't have authority to make Christian Brothers act on it; that maybe the Little Sisters have nothing to worry about here.

 

That wasn't asked to the Little Sisters' lawyer, so he didn't get a chance to respond, but we've responded in the papers and responded over the years that -- the short answer to that is that well, the Obama administration sure thought that it was important to get the Little Sisters' signature.

 

And the Obama administration told the Courts in the last go around that the reason they wanted the signature is that once they got the signature, they wouldn't stop at Christian Brothers, who's their church plan, but instead they would take that as an authorization to go to other entities, other secular entities, that do any work with the health plan -- so like a pharmacy benefits manager and things like that. They would take that and they would go call them up and offer to pay them extra money to get them to use the Little Sisters' health plan to provide the drugs.

 

That ought to make it no surprise why the Little Sisters said, "And, therefore, I can't give you my authorization signature."

 

And at a very high level, it's always been our view that if the piece of paper really didn't matter, it just doesn't make any sense at all that the government has been fighting for seven or eight years to get the sisters to sign it.

 

In other words, if the piece of paper doesn't do something, then it's really weird that the government attaches tens of millions of dollars in fines for failure to sign it. And it's really weird that the Obama administration felt the need to go to the Supreme Court multiple times, and that Pennsylvania felt the need to have this lawsuit to get the Sisters to sign it.

 

At the end of the day, that just doesn't make sense. And if it turns out that the piece of paper really doesn't matter at all, then it's really hard to see why the government would have any compelling interest in making somebody sign it. So one way or the other, I don't think that argument gets the States very far.

 

So in the end, to my mind a very good day for the Little Sisters and religious liberty at the Court. A case with a lot of crosscurrents going on in it, though, between the Affordable Care Act and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedures Act, but good questions from the Court and some good indications that the Court is -- well, I think this is good. I think it's good that, at times, I thought it sounded like the justices may be tiring of hearing the same case over and over again. And I think that's good because I think that will -- it gives the justices a reason, frankly, to want to get to a firm, durable resolution of this case by saying that, "Look, the federal government just has to have a religious exemption here, particularly where there's no evidence that anybody would be harmed by it. We all have much better and more important things to do than to pretend that governments need nuns to give out contraception."

 

So that's my report on the argument. I'm happy to answer any questions that folks have.

 

Greg Walsh:  Let's go to audience questions.

 

Caller 1:  Yeah, I just want to clarify. Was it Justice Kagan who asked that, "How could there be an APA violation since the original mandate did not conform to APA?"

 

Because that's pretty much the same issue that's involved in the DACA case; that Trump's rescission really didn't follow the same process that Obama's initial enactment did. So I just wanted to clarify it was Justice Kagan who found that to be a problem?

 

Mark Rienzi:  So the transcript just came out at the beginning of this phone call, so if it matters to you, I encourage you to take a look.

 

But yeah, I understood Justice Kagan to be making the point that it's hard to see how complaining about that claimed flaw of using an IFR followed by a Final Rule, that it's hard to see how that gets anyone anyplace. Because if that's really a problem, what is the Court supposed to do? Is it just supposed to just reinstate something that suffers from the exact same problem?

 

      And there's a question she was asking of the lawyer for Pennsylvania. So it's the Kagan and Mike Fischer exchange. But yes, I understood her to be raising that as a problem with the States' APA argument, or at least a limitation on it that it doesn't get people very far.

 

Because if the Court ultimately says you can't proceed that way, thennow I'm adding Mark Rienzi's words to Elena Kagan's wordsbut if the Court determines that that's an illegal way to proceed, then the Sisters are right back in court saying, "Okay, fine. But then you can't have any contraceptive mandate at all. So, either way, no one can force me to do it." It just seems like it's a circle.

 

It seems like that can't possibly be a path to get Pennsylvania what Pennsylvania wants because what Pennsylvania wants is the underlying mandate which was enacted in precisely the same way.

 

Greg Walsh:  Caller from area code 714, you're on the line.

 

Caller 2:  My question was about one of the issues from the consolidated case, Trump v. Pennsylvania, that talked about nationwide injunctions. And it was very briefly mentioned, I think, by Justice Thomas and Justice Gorsuch, but, obviously, the main discussion between the lawyers and justices was about the religious freedom and APA aspects.

 

      Do you think that means that that question will either not be addressed in the opinion or it'll have a very limited application to just this case?

 

Mark Rienzi:  Yeah. So I don't know. I certainly noticed what you noticed; that it didn't get a heck of a lot of airtime at the Court today.

 

From my optimistic point of view, that's because you don't reach the nationwide injunction question if you rule for the Little Sisters and the government, right? You only have to reach the nationwide injunction question if you decide that it was illegal for the government to do this.

 

And so my suspicion is this is not a case where the Court gets into the nationwide injunction issue because they'd have to rule what I think is quite clearly the wrong way and not a terribly defensible way on the merits.

 

      It's theoretically possible that if they have a split ruling of some kind of the merits that maybe there's a place where they say there's some procedural problem with a piece of it or something like that. So it's not out of the question that they'd give themselves a pass to get to the nationwide injunction issue, but it certainly did not get a whole lot of attention from the Court today.

 

Greg Walsh:  It doesn't look like we have anybody in the queue. So, Mr. Rienzi, if I might ask, or exercise the host's prerogative, if the ruling is in favor of the Little Sisters of the Poor, should an amendment be made or some sort of specific provision of the decision to specify or constrict how far moral objections can go to these kinds of public policy debates?

 

Mark Rienzi:  Yeah. So it's interesting. There wasn't much -- so there are really two rules at issue. One is the rule for religious objectors, and one is the rule for moral objectors, right. They have two separate rules. 99-point-something percent of the objectors who we've seen in the seven-plus years of litigation about this—I guess it's almost nine years of litigation about this, actually—virtually all of them are religious. And I think if you all consult your own experience, I doubt many of us know people who have non-religious but moral objections to contraception. I've at least never really me people who've got that.

 

      The only entities that had raised moral objections were a pretty narrow slice of the world, which is groups like March for Life, and a couple other small pro-life groups that are avowedly pro-life groups, but that just happen to say, as a group, we're not religious. And so that is, to anyone's knowledge, the full class of people who have a moral, but not religious, objection to the contraceptive mandate.

 

      There was a little bit of discussion with the Solicitor General about well, gosh, don't you think if we uphold this there'll a lot of people suddenly claiming these exceptions? And I thought Noel Francisco had a very strong response on that when he said, "Look, this is a benefit that is one cheap, or really cost-neutral or free, to the employer. And two, at least with many people, pretty popular. And so, it just doesn't make any sense at all that employers who either have, in the past, used the accommodation or otherwise not objected, are suddenly going to show up and make up an objection to it."

 

      So in terms of limitations on that principle, it's easier in the religious context because the limitation is baked into the statute, RFRA, which says the limitation is when the government can actually show it's got a compellingly important reason, and it's using the least-restrictive means of getting there.

 

And that's why I think one of the good things about the fact that this litigation has lingered so long is that we've had a lot of time with a lot of objections and a lot of exemptions to see well, hey, how's that working out? And does the government really have a compelling need to force the nuns to violate their religion? I would suggest that the history shows that it's not even close. This is not a situation where governments don't have other ways to provide contraception without nuns.

 

And so that's the limiting principle for the religious objections and the religious exemptions is strict scrutiny. And it's just the fact that the government can't come close to making that showing here, which is why they'll lose every RFRA case.

 

      On the moral side, that is not a built-in limitation because there is no moral equivalent of RFRA, but the rule is very narrowly drawn. The rule is only about moral objectors to contraceptive coverage. The entire known universe of that is these pro-life groups. It would actually be arbitrary and capricious for the government to force them to abide by a mandate where their own employees are, by definition, people who share their pro-life views.

 

      So even there, it just seems like it's already got built-in limitations. No one's ever heard of the secular business objector to contraceptives who is an atheist and doesn't have a religious claim. There's been hundreds of cases so far. None of them look anything like that. So I think the limiting principle maybe is just reality.

 

Greg Walsh:  Well, I encourage all interested FedSoc members to seek out that one person. Looks like we have a caller from area code 502. You are on the line.

 

Caller 3:  Thank you for the presentation. Let's assume that the Sisters win this case this summer and Joe Biden wins the election in November. Is it possible that he would then just revert back to the way it was with the Obama administration, or do you expect the Supreme Court's opinion this summer to make a decision that's permanently going to remedy the Sisters' grievance here?

 

Mark Rienzi:  So that's really up to the justices. I certainly want them to, and we urged them in the briefs, to do the latter because the -- I agree with premise that there is a danger of too narrow an opinion here not really resolving the issue and leaving it to say, "Well, this is fine if you have an administration that wants to respect your religious liberty," which I'm grateful that we have right now. But if you get one that chooses not to, you've got to come back and litigate the whole thing over again.

 

      I guess I'd just say that, to the extent that if you listen to the argument you could sense a little frustration from the Court that they're having to deal with it again, my suspicion is they fully understand that if they don't have a clear answer to the RFRA question and just say that RFRA requires this exemption, that in fact the issue is going to come back. And it's going to keep recurring. We've been at this for almost a decade now.

 

So I actually think that is a serious concern for the Court and I think -- particularly if you view your job as the Court not only to get the law right, but also to manage the lower federal courts. I mean, we have had years of litigation, scores of cases, multiple emergency Supreme Court appeals. This is the third merits grants in terms of a case on the Supreme Court's official docket.

 

To their credit, they always take it very seriously. They fully understand what's going on, and they've always ended up protecting the religious objector. But I assume they also feel like, at some level, it's time to fully answer the question.

 

      So I think that prospect is real; the prospect of an answer that doesn't fully resolve it. But I think the danger is also real and pretty obvious that, if it doesn't fully resolve it, everyone's just going to have to come back in a year or so. And I suspect the justices feel like, both for their own time and in their role as managers of the lower federal courts, for lack of a more artful phrase, I think they probably have an incentive to say, "Okay. It's time to just answer this one for good."

 

Greg Walsh:  Mr. Rienzi, is there anything you want to dive into more while we wait for the next caller?

 

Mark Rienzi:  I can give a little bit of, I guess a little bit of color on doing the telephone oral arguments. I wasn't arguing for the Little Sisters; Paul Clement was. It was his either 101st or his 102nd argument. But pretty cool as a team to be one, cool to be sitting in jeans in my house rather than a suit at the Court. And two, cool to be in a position where you can be in electronic touch with a lot of your team all listening at the same time.

 

And I was text-message touch with Paul so that -- in a normal case, maybe one lawyer could lean over and whisper something to the person on your side who's talking. But in a situation like this where everybody's at home, you actually have a little bit more ability for the lawyers who are not arguing to at least be thinking as a group and checking in with your team.

 

In this case, Paul didn't have a rebuttal, so there wasn't a whole lot we could do because you weren't going to interrupt him while he was talking. But still, just a pretty unique and different way to handle an argument. And I gather lawyers around the country are having those kinds of different experiences with appellate and trial court arguments, too.

 

Greg Walsh:  Mark, do you want to say anything before we conclude, if there aren't any more callers?

 

Mark Rienzi:  My 30-second wrap up would just be this has been a long and, at times, totally unnecessary fight, and the Little Sisters of the Poor did not ask for it. And it has always seemed quite obvious to me that the biggest governments in the world that are perfectly well-situated and suited to provide contraception without the help of nuns.

 

I think the experience on the ground, not just with religious exemptions, but with the grandfathered exemption that President Obama put in there, which is much, much larger. All that experience shows that having exemptions actually is okay. It really doesn't leave women unable to get contraception. Because contraception's really widely available and people who want it can get it.

 

And the fact that there is no example of people who've been left out in the cold by this point is a very strong indicator that the government just really doesn't need to do this. I think the justices get that, and so I think and hope that in a month or two, we'll get a solid answer that just says, "Hey, look. The government of the United States can go get people contraception in other ways without the help of Catholic nuns."

 

Greg Walsh:  Well, thank you so much. On behalf of The Federalist Society, I want to thank our speaker for the benefit of his valuable time and expertise today. We welcome listener feedback by email at info@fedsoc.org. Thank you all for joining us. We are adjourned.

 

[Music]

 

Dean Reuter:  Thank you for listening to this episode of Teleforum, a podcast of The Federalist Society's practice groups. For more information about The Federalist Society, the practice groups, and to become a Federalist Society member, please visit our website at fedsoc.org.