Little Sisters of the Poor, other non profits win at Supreme Court

by Joni B. Hannigan, Editorial Staff |
A nun with Little Sisters of the Poor walks after Zubik v. Burwell, an appeal brought by Christian groups demanding full exemption from the requirement to provide insurance covering contraception under the Affordable Care Act, was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington March 23, 2016. May 16, 2016 the court vacated the lower courts' decision. | REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

CLEVELAND, Ga. (Christian Examiner) – Following a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court today to unanimously overturn the lower court rulings against the Little Sisters of the Poor, the president of Truett-McConnell University said he was "thrilled" a six year "battle of ups and downs" has finally come to an end.

"That's as strong as it gets," Emir Caner told Christian Examiner, about the high court's decision that ordered the government to leverage no fines and work with the Little Sisters' and others who do not want to participate in directly supplying contraception, to offering other ways to provide services that do not require them to forfeit their religious liberties.

"You can tell [the Supreme Court justices] have had enough of the government dictating to our conscience what we can or cannot do," Caner said.

The Court, according to a Beckett Fund Fund attorney, vacated the lower courts' decision.

Last July, the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Little Sisters – based in Denver, Colo. – must comply with procedures for opting out of the birth control mandate in Obamacare because the process did not impose a "substantial burden" on them.

Other Baptist institutions joining the appeal were GuideStone Financial Resources, East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University.

Lawyers for the institutions in March told the high court that religious nonprofits needed an accommodation to the Obama administration's abortion/contraception mandate to prevent them from violating their religious freedom rights by forcing them to providing potentially abortion-inducing drugs and devices.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provided an exemption to churches and their auxiliaries to the abortion/contraception mandate that is a part of the 2010 healthcare reform law (known as Obamacare) – but it stopped short of extending that exemption to non-church-related, nonprofit organizations that object.

Denominational related colleges, hospitals and other such entities are an example of those organizations not exempt.

The Plan B "morning-after" pill, the IUD and other post-fertilization mechanisms that can potentially cause abortions by preventing implantation of tiny embryos, and the disruption of such, are included as federally approved contraceptives for which coverage is required under the Affordable Healthcare Act.

"I'm thrilled and I'm excited," Caner said. "Six years and it could have been millions in fines."