Little Sisters of the Poor (“David”) vs. Obama Care (“Goliath”) , Back in Court

Practicing Catholics and small- to mid-sized business leaders in the U.S. breathed a sigh of relief when the Little Sisters of the Poor finally won their battle against Obama care in the Supreme Court.  As you recall, the nuns fought the forced mandate triggered by Obama’s and Pelosi’s healthcare mandate to violate the nuns’ faith, freedom of religion and conscience by providing contraceptives and anti-life services in their insurance plan.

The Catholic nuns said no.

As the Wall Street Journal puts it:  “Catholic nuns aren’t known as an anxious bunch, but by now the Little Sisters of the Poor must be meditating with St. Augustine’s work “On Patience.” For seven years the sisters have fought ObamaCare’s contraception mandate, and on Wednesday they’ll be back in the Supreme Court…”

That’s an understatement!

Back in Court

Didn’t the good sisters win at the Supreme Court already?  Yes indeed.

So, uh, why are they back at the Supreme Court?

The lawyers at the Becket firm, which continues to defend the sisters, summarizes the case as follows.

Case Summary

Despite a 2016 victory at the U.S. Supreme Court, an Executive Order, and a new rule that protects the Little Sisters of the Poor and other non-profit religious groups from the unconstitutional HHS mandate, the Little Sisters are still in court.

In November 2017, after the federal government issued their new rule protecting religious groups from the mandate, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and several other states sued in federal court to take away the nuns’ hard-won religious exemption.

In November 2017, Becket intervened on behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor in California and Pennsylvania. , arguing that the states have no right to challenge the new rule.

In the California case, after a series of court hearings, ultimately the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments on June 6, 2019. On October 22, the Ninth Circuit ruled 2-1 against the Little Sisters, stating it would “welcome guidance from the Supreme Court.” 

In the Pennsylvania case, oral argument was held on March 23, 2018 to decide whether the Sisters will be allowed to intervene in the case, and on April 24, 2018, the Little Sisters’ motion for intervention was granted.

More than a year later, on July 12, 2019, the Third Circuit ruled against the Little Sisters.

On October 1, 2019, the Little Sisters of the Poor asked the Supreme Court to protect them from the HHS contraceptive mandate again and end their legal battle once and for all.

On January 17, 2020 the Supreme Court agreed to review the Third Circuit’s decision in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The Supreme Court heard oral argument in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on May 6, 2020

A Supreme court ruling is pending.

Meanwhile the California case is being held until the Pennsylvania case is settled.


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