- - Monday, July 7, 2014

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor worked herself into a lather over an unsigned order the court issued Thursday to provide temporary relief to Wheaton College. The Christian school in Illinois objected to a cost-shifting “accommodation” cooked up by the administration that would require the school’s insurance company to pay for contraceptives and abortions. This would give those with religious scruples a way to wash their hands of the Obamacare mandate.

In a 15-page dissent to a 1-page procedural order, Justice Sotomayor said Wheaton just didn’t understand the accommodation. “Thinking one’s religious beliefs are substantially burdened — no matter how sincere or genuine that belief may be — does not make it so,” she wrote. She was joined in dissent by Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan.

Obamacare mandates that employers hand out free contraceptive devices, including abortifacients like the morning-after pill, to women in their employ. To get around religious objections, the administration says Wheaton College must fill out a form objecting to this particular coverage. Signing the form triggers a requirement that the insurance company pay for the pills and devices. Obviously, that money doesn’t magically appear — it comes out of Wheaton’s budget. Justice Sotomayor wants everyone to pretend otherwise.

For now at least, Wheaton College won’t have to comply with the provision, which is good news for scores of other groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic charity, which have cases on appeal. The high court expressed no opinion of the merits of the appeal.

Losing on these cases is just what the Democratic National Committee needed. It allows more posturing on the “war on women” ahead of the November midterm elections. Democrats can pretend that they alone care about women.

Liberal groups wasted no time seizing on the Hobby Lobby and Wheaton rulings with fundraising appeals. “I dissent,” says a Planned Parenthood pledge for its supporters to take. “I will continue to fight for the right of every woman to make her own private medical decisions without interference from anyone — not her boss, not politicians, not the Supreme Court.” Republicans are portrayed as anti-woman if they refuse to force religious organizations to betray their beliefs.

There’s no barrier now to these devices. The 20 birth-control methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration are readily available at pharmacies in retail chains such as Wal-Mart and Target for as little as $9 a month.

The conflict is a creation of a White House that sees every issue on the agenda only in terms of political advantage. It’s a shame that the women on the Supreme Court are so eager for unnecessary combat.

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