Kim Daniels, a religious-liberty attorney and friend of mine, writes:
If the government believes providing women and teenage girls with free contraceptives, abortion-causing drugs, and sterilizations serves a compelling interest, it still doesn’t have to force those with religious objections to provide these things themselves. Most straightforwardly, the government could provide these things itself. There are any number of ways for it to do so – among them, direct government provision of free contraception (as already occurs through Title X); tax credits; or direct government compensation of those who provide these goods and services.
But the administration didn’t choose any of these less restrictive alternatives, as RFRA requires. Instead, it chose to achieve its goals through the means perhaps most restrictive of religious liberty. For the court, this was another strike against the government, and another reason to prevent enforcement of the mandate against the Newlands and their business.
The Newlands’ victory has galvanized supporters of religious liberty and opened the door to further legal victories. Finally forced to offer a substantive defense of its mandate coercing religious employers into acting against their most deeply-held beliefs, the administration failed. Employers around the country should take notice: just because they’ve entered into business doesn’t mean they’ve forfeited their religious liberty.
Read more on Friday’s injunction and the way forward here.