Nuns Will Return to Supreme Court to Fight Obamacare Mandate

US Supreme Court / Getty Images
January 17, 2020

The Little Sisters of the Poor are once again asking the Supreme Court to defend their religious exemption to Obamacare's contraceptive mandate.

On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, et al. The nuns welcomed the hearing, which could bring their five-year legal fight to a close.

"It is disappointing to think that as we enter a new decade we must still defend our ministry in court," Mother Loraine Marie Maguire said in a statement. "We are grateful the Supreme Court has decided to weigh in, and hopeful that the Justices will reinforce their previous decision and allow us to focus on our lifelong work of serving the elderly poor once and for all."

The nuns, who care for the elderly poor, previously took the Obama administration to the Supreme Court, arguing that the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate violated their religious liberty. Justices urged the two sides to reach a compromise, and the Catholic religious order appeared to have won the battle after the Trump White House expanded an existing exemption to include organizations like the Sisters in 2018. Democratic leaders in Pennsylvania and California, however, sued to block the new rules from taking effect.

"The Trump Administration’s rule allows employers to deny contraceptive services to any employee for any reason—including the belief that women don’t belong in the workforce," Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro said in an email to the Washington Free Beacon. "Two federal courts have blocked this rule and we are confident the Supreme Court of the United States will do the same. I look forward to making our case before the Justices."

Pro-life organizations and religious liberty activists called on the Supreme Court, which previously returned the Sisters' case to lower courts, to take decisive action to end their legal struggle.

"The Supreme Court of the United States needs to protect once and for all the Little Sisters of the Poor and people of all faiths from government-forced violations of their religious beliefs," Stephanie Taub, senior counsel to the First Liberty Institute, said in a statement. "We are confident the Justices will again respect the religious liberty of all religious non-profits and reverse the Third Circuit’s dangerous decision."

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said the exemption should stand to safeguard religious freedom.

"President Trump took strong steps to put this nonsense to an end and his administration’s rule should be upheld. No one—not Catholic nuns who care for the elderly poor, and not moral objectors like Susan B. Anthony List—should ever be forced by the government to provide abortion-inducing drugs in their health care plans," she said. "Conscience rights and religious freedom are important parts of American history and tradition, and the government, state-level or federal, doesn't need nuns to deliver abortion inducing drugs to women."

The Supreme Court has yet to set a date for a hearing but has allotted one hour for oral arguments.