Ed Whelan at NRO takes down a recent really bad ruling against an employer who sued over the HHS mandate. I assume the ruling is being appealed. ?? Hopefully we'll get more justice at the next level.
I don't have time to make a lot of comments, but here are some salient points from Whelan's column:
The judge, Carol E. Jackson, says that refusing to pay for a healthcare plan that covers contraception can be an exercise of freedom of religion under the all-important (to this case) RFRA, but her actual ruling contradicts that. Essentially, her ruling says that because what employers are being told to do is to pay for a plan that only might end up paying for the services in question, depending on the independent decisions of other people, making them do this can't substantially burden their freedom of religion. But that could only be true if refusing to pay for such a plan is not really an exercise of freedom of religion.
If that's accepted by the legal establishment, then all exemptions, including the very narrow ones already allowed for a small number of religious institutions, could be removed, and abortion or any other "procedure" could be added to the required benefits, and that would also not be a substantial burdening of anybody's freedom of religion. Whelan points this out.