On November 1, 2021, the Supreme Court of the United States made a good decision in an abortion-related case that was filed here in New York.
In Albany v. Emami, The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York and a group of other religious organizations filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a 2017 state mandate requiring group health insurance plans to cover abortions in cases of incest, rape, and fetal malformation. The mandate provides a narrow exemption for churches, but does not exempt all faith-based charities. The plaintiffs argued that the mandate violates the First Amendment.
After losing in New York’s courts, the plaintiff asked the Supreme Court to hear their case. The Court responded by vacating the state court decision and sending the case back to New York’s Appellate Division. The Court ordered that the case be reconsidered in light of its decision earlier this year in Fulton v. Philadelphia, in which the Court ruled in favor of a Catholic charity that declined to place children in homes headed by same-sex couples.
“‘We are gratified and grateful that the Supreme Court has recognized the serious constitutional concerns over New York State’s heavy-handed abortion mandate on religious employers,’ Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of the Diocese of Albany said. “‘We are confident that…the unconstitutional regulatory action taken by New York State will ultimately be completely overturned as incompatible with our country’s First Amendment guarantee of religious liberty.’”
The next time Albany v. Emami is heard, it is hoped that New York’s courts will take action to protect the rights of faith-based charities.