Supreme Court Halts Birth Control Rule For ‘Little Sisters’ Group

AP

The Supreme Court on Friday extended a reprieve from Obamacare’s birth control rule for a group of nuns in Colorado who charged that the religious accommodation wasn’t good enough and violated their religious liberty.

The lawsuit was brought by Little Sisters of the Poor, which argued that the ability of religious nonprofits to opt out of paying for birth control for female employees (and thereby pass the cost on to the insurer) amounted to a “permission slip” for contraception coverage that they objected to.

The Supreme Court issued its one-page order after several weeks of deliberations, extending the injunction and preventing the mandate from being enforced while the case is pending before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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.

The Obama administration argues that signing an opt-out form does not qualify as a substantial burden on religious liberty.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.
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