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Little Sisters have big win in Supreme Court decision

In a 7-2 decision, the Court’s majority sided with the sisters in the latest round of lawsuits against them over the Obama-era “contraception mandate”.

In this 2016 file photo, Sister Loraine Marie Maguire, mother provincial of the Denver-based Little Sisters of the Poor, speaks to the media outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. (CNS photo/Joshua Roberts, Reuters)

Washington D.C., Jul 8, 2020 / 08:42 am (CNA).-  The Little Sisters of the Poor had a victory at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, nine years into the religious order’s bouts of litigation over the Obama-era “contraception mandate” which obliged employers to provide for contraceptive coverage for employees through their health care plans.

“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,” wrote Justice Clarence Thomas for the majority.

“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.”

In a 7-2 decision, the Court’s majority sided with the sisters in the latest round of lawsuits against them over the mandate, this time brought by the states of Pennsylvania and California, who argued that the exemption crafted by the Trump administration for organizations with religious or moral objections to the mandate shifted the cost of providing contraceptive coverage to the states and was procedurally flawed.

“We hold today that the Departments had the statutory authority to craft that exemption, as well as the contemporaneously issued moral exemption,” the majority found. “We further hold that the rules promulgating these exemptions are free from procedural defects.”

The near decade-long court battle of the Little Sisters of the Poor dates back to 2011, when the Obama administration required employers to provide cost-free coverage for contraceptives, sterilizations, and “emergency birth control” in employee health plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Although the Obama administration granted an “accommodation” to the Little Sisters and other objecting religious non-profits, the sisters sued the government in 2013 saying the process still required them to essentially give a “permission slip” for contraceptive coverage to be delivered through their health plans.

In 2016, a divided Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower courts and instructed both the administration and the non-profits to reach a compromise where cost-free contraceptive coverage could still be offered to employees while respecting the moral objections of religious groups.

In 2017, the Trump administration granted a religious and moral exemption to the mandate for the sisters and other objecting groups, but then the states of Pennsylvania and California filed lawsuits saying that the burden of providing coverage was being shifted onto the states and claiming that the administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act in setting up the exemption.

The Supreme Court took up their case against the states in January, hearing arguments by phone in April following the coronavirus pandemic.


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6 Comments

  1. Be cautious about celebrating this decision. If a Democrat is elected, they will negate the Trump Administration religious exemption and again go after the Little Sisters of the Poor.

  2. This decision is essentially a no-brainer: Can a federal regulation supersede a prior federal regulation. I’m curious who the two justices were who voted for CA and PA.

  3. Interesting that this win came on the Octave of The Feast of St.Serra – St Miguel Jose a ‘Founding Father ‘ of the nation – the blessing the nation has been given through the Holy Father , himself an ardent advocate of littleness ,from the trust in God’s goodness , to help us to live in accordance .
    Such was also the case of the founder of the order , a French saint , born during times of the revolution there .
    http://littlesistersofthepoor.org/saint-jeanne-jugan/her-story/

    Contraception , telling God that He has very little role in our lives ..very little value for the holiness He desires to bestow into our lives and generations , earned at so great a price , as given us in the glimpse of the LOH reading today about King David seen as unworthy to build the temple , after having set apart 100,000 talents of gold – a talent said to equal 33 KG !
    He readily heeds to the Lord’s guidance , calling himself ‘poor ‘ , from the debt of having shed blood …
    The tears and blood shed in our times too , through the silent miscarriages of little ones from contraception , other ill effects , the effects of the spirits of lust that damage the sense of the sacred with all its abundant related evils we see all around ..
    The priceless price of The Precious Blood that washes off the debt of sins ….
    how callous we can be when same is given so little worth , when we instead choose to go for carnal gods and their confusions and greeds seen in the most degrading ways in our times , from the power that are given to demons to prevail , starting in marriages .
    King Solomon starts out good ..soon falling for the carnal spirits ..

    Like the widow’s mite , a bit of good from the nation’s heads in the above ruling – hope it helps to smash up many false idols all over , to bring back the dignity of living in the identity and its holiness given us all , in The Lord and His Blood .
    Same may shine into the heads and hearts of those who want to march around in pride , for belonging to the prowling lion and choose instead , to be prideful for belonging to the rainbow of His mercy , its holiness , its purity .

  4. If Bumbling Biden and Pelosi, etc win, Biden has promised he will make the Little Sisters pay for abortions AND Pelosi said that not making Americans fund abortions is an “injustice”. I hope these fake Catholics love heat because they will be spending Eternity in Hell where they belong.

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