The Supreme Court has extended a temporary injunction allowing the Little Sisters of the Poor to be exempted from the controversial birth control mandate that would force them to provide contraceptive coverage to employees or face crippling fines.
Politico is reporting that the Court issued a one-page order on Jan. 24 without any noted dissent that the Obama administration cannot enforce the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirements for the Little Sisters, Christian Brothers Services and Christian Brothers Employee Benefits Trust.
The only requirement the Court made of the plaintiffs was to ask them to send a letter to Kathleen Sebelius of the Department of Health and Human Services informing her that the mandate violates their religious beliefs. This step bypasses the government-issued exemption request form which they say serves as a trigger to providing the contraceptives to their employees.
Daniel Blomberg, a Becket Fund attorney who is representing the Little Sisters, said the Supreme Court’s requirement to send a note to HHS demonstrates that the government’s form amounts to a “permission slip” to access to contraception.
“The Supreme Court saw through it,” Blomberg said. “They’ve given an example of how it can be done nationwide.”
Kevin Walsh, a professor at the University of Richmond who is also representing the nuns, applauded the decision.
“This order grants all the protection that the Little Sisters of the Poor and the other organizations in the case need while the courts are deciding their case,” he told Politico. “We are happy to satisfy the condition in the Supreme Court’s order, which is to say something that we have been saying from the beginning of the case and that the government already knows.”
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) welcomed the latest ruling.
“The bishops of the United States welcome the Court’s protection of ministries like the Little Sisters whose vital work is at the heart of what it means to be Catholic,” Archbishop Kurtz said in a statement.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit is currently reviewing the case. Regardless of the ruling, either side is expected to appeal to the Supreme Court where the case will be given a full hearing.
The Supreme Court will rule on another case regarding the birth control mandate this year. Brought by Hobby Lobby, it will determine if owners of for-profit businesses can be exempted from the mandate because it violates their religious beliefs. Arguments in this case are scheduled for March with a decision to come sometime in June.
© All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace® http://www.womenofgrace.com