Obama Administration Calls The Supreme Court’s Bluff In Hobby Lobby, Think Progress

“The one remaining question is whether the Court will tolerate the new rules’ requirement that religious employers “tell the federal government which company administers their health-insurance plan,” a requirement that goes beyond the obligations the Court imposed in its Wheaton College order. The employers who have raised the staunchest objections to birth control have often claimed that they cannot take any action that will set in motion a chain of events that leads to someone receiving contraception, as doing so would make them “complicit” in the act of providing birth control. If the justices are determined honor even this idiosyncratic objection, then it is unclear that the administration could provide anyaccommodation that would survive Supreme Court review.

Such a holding, it should be noted, would gut a key limit on federal religious liberty law. Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was the statute the Court relied upon in Hobby Lobby, the federal government may not “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” except in certain circumstances. But if requiring someone to write a two sentence letter naming an insurance company can be a “substantial burden,” then anything can be a substantial burden. It’s difficult to imagine a less burdensome act that could be imposed upon someone then requiring them to toss off a letter they could probably draft in 30 seconds.”