Four deep-seated American attitudes were on display Wednesday in the Supreme Court chamber as the justices heard a new challenge to the Affordable Care Act, Zubik v. Burwell, which once again pitted health insurance for birth control against religious freedoms:
(1) The ACA, an unprecedented piece of socialistic overreach, is slowly transforming the republic into a bleak totalitarian dystopia.
(2) Any public policy that offends a “traditional” American religious sensibility—mostly meaning certain strains of conservative Christianity—is inherently suspect.
(3) Women’s health care is a dangerous and suspect thing because it may involve sex and thus fertility and thus contraception and thus maybe even abortions.
(4) Medical care can be divided into “women’s issues” and “the important areas,” which center on the needs of men. Thus, a health-insurance policy that explicitly excludes the needs of women, or remits them to a separate status, is not an anomaly; it is normal.
This time, it isn’t a big corporation like Hobby Lobby seeking an exemption to covering birth control. It is a group of religious nonprofits claiming that filing the one-page form to enshrine their objection and get a birth-control accommodation “facilitates” a sin—making them participants in the sin. The feelings in the room were so intense that Paul Clement, one of the most equable and careful appellate advocates of his generation, actually claimed that that requiring his clients—the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic nonprofit that provides elder-care services—to certify their objection to providing contraceptive coverage was the same as if the government came “into one of the Little Sisters’ homes and set up shop in a room … and then they operated a Title X [birth-control] clinic in our homes.”