Little Sisters Get a Win Against Big Brother

By Richard Nelson

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January 26, 2014

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The Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic charities organization that runs nursing homes throughout the United States received a big win at the Supreme Court on Friday. Short of a full victory that many anticipate will come in June when the Court decides the HHS Mandate in full, on Friday, the organization received a step beyond a injunctive. What the Court decided on Friday is that all groups like the Little Sisters are not obligated to obey the government’s HHS Mandate if they are non-profit and have an objection against the mandate. The full order can be viewed here.

According to the Court order:

The application for an injunction having been submitted to Justice Sotomayor and by her referred to the Court, the Court orders: If the employer applicants inform the Secretary of Health and Human Services in writing that they are non-profit organizations that hold themselves out as religious and have             religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services, the respondents are enjoined from enforcing against the applicants the challenged provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related regulations pending final disposition of the appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.  To meet the condition for injunction pending appeal, applicants need not use the form prescribed by the Government and need not send copies to third-party administrators.  The Court issues this order based on all of the circumstances of the case, and this order should not be construed as an expression of the Court’s views on the merits.

This is a big step taken by the government against the odious mandate perniciously ensconced in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The action taken by the Court also derails the hysteria coming from the professional Left that the complainants of the HHS Mandate are motivated by a Catholic or evangelical conspiracy to repeal access to contraception.

While the case discussed here relates only to non-profit and the for-profit case involving Hobby Lobby has yet to be argued, and much less decided, advocates for religious freedom have before them the most monumental case in religious freedom history—perhaps ever. What’s at stake in the HHS Mandate—which mandates that employers provide their employees with abortion-causing drugs, contraception, and sterilization—is whether the government can coercively mandate a private actor and business to purchase something that goes against the conscience of business owners.

Supporters of conscience have reason to be confident that the Court will rule on the side of conscience protection and religious freedom. In lower courts, both for-profit and non-profit organizations have received injunctive relief, though to be fair, some courts have sided with the government as well. Even objective onlookers at the court recognize that the burden of proof lies with the government.

This case presents a great opportunity for onlookers and concerned citizens to re-examine our first freedoms and gain a renewed grasp of the resiliency of religious liberty in America. 

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Director, Commonwealth Policy Center