Throughout oral arguments, several Justices—particularly Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Ginsburg—raised concerns about the broad implications of a decision exempting for-profit corporations from covering birth control in their employees’ health insurance due to religious objections. They indicated that the implications led to two issues: 1) would employers be allowed to question other equality laws based on religious objections, and 2) would employers be allowed to preclude coverage of other medical treatments based on religious objections? At one point, Justice Kagan even said that “you would see religious objectors come out of the woodwork,” seeking religious exemptions from sex discrimination laws, minimum wage laws, family leave laws, and child labor laws.
To differentiate contraception coverage from other services, Attorney Paul Clement attempted to label contraception as a “religiously sensitive” issue. Justices Sotomayor and Kagan took issue with Clement’s argument. In the clip below, you will hear Justices Sotomayor and Kagan ask whether, if the Court were to exempt employers from the birth control coverage based on their religious beliefs, it would also allow employers to preclude other services based on religious objections, such as blood transfusions or vaccinations. Justice Kagan states that Clement’s approach would lead to allowing one religious group to “opt out of this and another religious group could opt out of that and everything would be piecemeal and nothing would be uniform.”