This is a win for religious liberty and a loss for an increasingly overreaching government.
It’s also fantastic news for the Little Sisters of the Poor who have been waging a battle against an Obamacare contraception mandate for nearly a decade.
The Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Catholic nuns who cares for the poor, has opposed on religious grounds to providing contraceptives which could include abortifacients–medication that would induce an abortion. in their health insurance plan.
The nuns have been fighting against federal and state governments since 2011. When they filed for an exemption and were denied it, the nuns sued the government in 2013. In that case, the Supreme Court gave the Sisters a big win and vacated–meaning erased–all lower court cases and required them to be reconsidered because the government was able to provide contraceptive coverage without infringing on the religious convictions of the nuns.
President Trump attempted to put the issue to rest once and for all in his 2017 Executive Order stating that the Little Sisters of the Poor were protected from “undue interference from the federal government” and they were not required to provide contraceptives to their employees in their health insurance plan. The next year, Alex Azar, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, solidified the administration’s position by issuing exemption guidelines for religious nonprofit groups from contraception requirements mandated under Obamacare.
Pennsylvania and New Jersey sued President Trump for “executive overreach” for his E.O. in support of the nuns, so the Little Sisters were dragged back into court.
Here is an interview with Sister Constance Veit who is the spokesperson for Little Sisters of the Poor regarding the case:
Lower courts had opposed the exemptions which put them on hold nationally, but on Wednesday, a Supreme Court ruling has overturned the lower court decisions.
Justice Thomas delivered the Court’s opinion with Justices Roberts, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh concurring. Justice Alito wrote a concurring opinion which Justice Gorsuch concurred. Justice Kagan filed an opinion concurring the judgment which was joined by Justice Beyer. Justice Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion which was joined by Justice Sotomayor.
The majority decision both praised the Little Sisters of the Poor and asserted that the Trump administration was authorized to create the exemption for religious groups.
For over 150 years, the Little Sisters have engaged in faithful service and sacrifice, motivated by a religious calling to surrender all for the sake of their brother But for the past seven years, they—like many other religious objectors who have participated in the litigation and rulemakings leading up to today’s decision— have had to fight for the ability to continue in their noble work without violating their sincerely held religious beliefs…
…We hold today that the Departments had the statutory authority to craft that exemption, as well as the contemporaneously issued moral exemption. We further hold that the rules promulgating these exemptions are free from procedural defects.
We need more Supreme Court Justices like Justice Thomas, don’t we?