Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was one of many on the left to express dismay at the Supreme Court’s Wednesday ruling that the Trump administration acted within its authority when it expanded exemptions to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement that employers provide insurance that includes contraception, and promised he would return to an Obama-era policy should he be elected.
“As disappointing as the Supreme Court’s ruling is, there is a clear path to fixing it: electing a new President who will end Donald Trump’s ceaseless attempts to gut every aspect of the Affordable Care Act,” Biden said in a statement. “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.”
A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court on Monday stood by its most recent abortion precedent. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals, citing the Supreme Court’s adherence to precedent, to invalidate a Louisiana law that required doctors at clinics that perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
Louisiana’s law is virtually identical to one struck down by the court in 2016, which found that the admitting-privileges law in Texas was medically unnecessary and that it significantly limited access to abortion.
But since then the composition of the court has changed significantly, and abortion opponents had high hopes that the new conservative majority would reverse course. Roberts, who dissented from the 2016 decision, apparently decided, however, that the value of abiding by precedent was more important.
Chief Justice John Roberts is under the microscope as the Supreme Court prepares to issue its first major ruling on abortion rights in the Trump era, which will give the clearest indication yet of the court’s willingness to revisit protections that were first granted in Roe v. Wade.
The tie-breaking vote may rest with Roberts, and the case stands to test his role as the court’s new ideological center as well as his allegiance to past rulings.
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to review a form of immunity that has shielded police officers from lawsuits alleging brutality and other civil rights violations, an issue that found renewed attention after nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody.
The justices declined to hear eight separate cases presenting reconsideration of the doctrine of qualified immunity that establishes protection from lawsuits for government officials, particularly police officers.
Justice Clarence Thomas issued a six-page dissent, calling on his colleagues to revisit the protections and expressing “strong doubts” about the court’s approach to qualified immunity.
The doctrine, created by the Supreme Court decades ago, allows civil suits only when it can be shown that an official’s actions violated a “clearly established” statutory or constitutional right. When determining whether the right was clearly established, courts consider whether a reasonable official would have known that the actions were a violation.
Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined the court’s liberals in the 6 to 3 ruling. They said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination “because of sex,” includes LGBTQ employees.
“Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear,” Gorsuch wrote. “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”