Today, the Supreme Court delivered two rulings in favor of religious freedom over civil rights, moving America further backward in the quest for human rights. Unfortunately, these decisions shouldn’t come as a surprise. After June’s big Supreme Court wins for civil rights, Republicans have been on a fervent crusade to tarnish the reputation of the Supreme Court justices. The court’s conservative justices (which is most of them) have been under extreme pressure to “be more conservative”, and unfortunately, today’s rulings show that they’ve listened to the pressure coming from republican media.
First off, there was the ruling of Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru in which the Supreme Court ruled in favor (7-2, with Ginsberg and Sotomayor being the two dissenters) of schools being able to fire teachers for religious reasons if the teacher’s served an “important” role in religious teaching…even if that firing violates federal anti-discrimination laws. Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) stated, “While the immediate impact of the Court’s ruling is limited to teachers who were required to teach religion and lead prayers as part of their duties, the Court’s analysis is disturbingly broad and appears to open the door to sweeping new exemptions to anti-discrimination laws.”
The second ruling came with Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania where the court declared (again, 7-2) that employers have a right to not include contraception in an employee’s healthcare package if contraception violates the employer’s religious beliefs. Julianna S. Gonen, the NCLR’s Federal Policy Director, said, “The Court today gave a green light to the Trump administration’s rules that grant sweeping religious and moral exemptions to employers who want to deny their employees coverage for birth control, a benefit otherwise guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act.”
What makes this outcome so deviating is that contraception has been one of the greatest achievements in women’s rights. Studies have proven that contraception access resulted in higher rates of education for women, allowed women to better participate in the workforce by getting more desirable careers and jobs that pay more, and dramatically reduced the chance of women living in poverty.