WASHINGTON, D.C. — Independent Women’s Law Center (IWLC) applauds the Supreme Court’s decision on Wednesday upholding the government’s exemption for religious employers from the “contraceptive mandate” of the Affordable Care Act.
This is the third time over the course of a decade that the Supreme Court has been forced to step in to protect the conscience rights of Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Catholic women religious serving the elderly poor in over 30 countries around the world.
Little Sisters sought exemption from the ACA’s birth control mandate, arguing that the government could easily achieve its policy goal without forcing them to violate their deeply held religious beliefs.
The government’s unlawful regulation of the Little Sisters harmed the order in tangible ways: For nearly 10 years, the order diverted scarce resources from its core charitable mission in order to fight regulatory overreach that put not only their conscience rights but their entire organization in jeopardy.
Jennifer C. Braceras, director of Independent Women’s Law Center, issued the following statement: “The decision is a win for common sense. The government has no business forcing Catholic nuns to endorse birth control practices that violate their faith—a faith that informs their charitable work and to which these women have dedicated their entire lives.”
Erin M. Hawley, senior legal fellow at Independent Women’s Law Center, added: “After nearly ten years of protracted litigation, the Supreme Court finally made clear that the government acted properly in exempting women like the Little Sisters from the mandate, especially where other avenues for providing contraception exist. This is a win for women and for religious liberty.”
Hadley Heath Manning, policy director at Independent Women’s Forum, said: “Our leaders should reevaluate whether it is worthwhile to have a mandate that needs exemption after exemption and accommodation after accommodation. Rather, Americans should be free to make their own decisions about contraception and other aspects of health care.”
IWLC filed an Amicus brief in the case, arguing not only that the government may exempt religious objectors from its contraceptive mandate, but that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) requires the government to do so. Although the Court did not explicitly determine whether RFRA independently compelled the exemption, it noted that because the ACA does not explicitly exempt RFRA, the Departments were right to consider RFRA when formulating the accommodation.
Read IWLC’s brief HERE.
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Independent Women’s Law Center advocates for equal opportunity, individual liberty, and respect for the American constitutional order.