Little Sisters: Supreme Court ruling is ‘big win’

By Greg Corombos

Little Sisters are Supreme Court (Image courtesy Becket Fund)
Little Sisters are Supreme Court (Image courtesy Becket Fund)

The Supreme Court ruled 8-0 on Monday that it is sending the legal cases involving religious organizations and the Obamacare contraception mandate back to lower courts for resolution, a decision that an attorney for the Little Sisters of the Poor calls a “win-win.”

The case, Zubik v. Burwell, is a legal battle over whether the government can force religious organizations to provide contraception coverage in their health plans if that coverage violates sincerely held beliefs.

The justices ruled they would not be ruling on the merits of the case at this time.

“In particular, the Court does not decide whether petitioners’ religious exercise has been substantially burdened, whether the government has a compelling interest, or whether the current regulations are the least restrictive means of serving that interest,” the court stated in an opinion that was not ascribed to a specific justice.

While the Obama administration says it is “gratified” by the decision, most court watchers summarized the ruling as the justices punting the issue back to the lower courts. But the Little Sisters don’t see it that way at all.

“To the extent that this is a punt, this is a punt that gives the Little Sisters great field position,” said Daniel Blomberg, an attorney with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the Little Sisters. “It puts them in a place that we can get to a solution that frankly isn’t a win-loss; it’s a win-win.”

Related story: “Supreme Court takes action on Obama’s birth-control mandate”

Blomberg told WND and Radio America, “Today was a big win. It was the unanimous decision that we’ve been hoping for and it protects the Little Sisters of the Poor from having to violate their religious beliefs or pay massive fines.”

While the court did not rule on the merits, Blomberg said its actions demonstrate the justices are not OK with with groups like the Little Sisters being in the government’s cross-hairs.

“Several lower court decisions had gone the wrong way, and they were forcing the Little Sisters to choose between their faith and fines, and they were massive, crushing fines,” he said. “The Supreme Court today said, ‘No, we’re not going to do that. We’re going to send this back down to get reconsidered because the government has admitted it has other ways of accomplishing its mission without forcing the sisters to violate their beliefs.”

Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Daniel Blomberg: 

[jwplayer scKjUpkh]

Blomberg said the court also played a pivotal role in the early stages on this case.

“[The Little Sisters] had to run to the Supreme Court because the government was so aggressively pursuing them and requiring them to violate their faith or pay massive fines,” he said. “Justice (Sonia) Sotomayor issued an opinion saying, ‘No, let’s put the brakes on this. Let’s give more time to think about it.’ Then the full court said you can’t fine them while this case is proceeding.”

Despite its recent reputation, Bloomberg said the Supreme Court has ruled on the side of liberty on this issue several times in recent years.

“We’ve had several other decisions since that time, and they’ve all gone the same way,” he said. “They’ve all rejected the government’s arguments, and they’ve all provided protection for the Little Sisters and other religious ministries.”

So why is the White House welcoming this decision?

“Of course the government’s spinning,” Blomberg said. “You can read the clear text of the Supreme Court’s order yourself. It says you don’t get to fine the sisters to make them do what you want. It does say that you have to find a solution that actually accommodates their religious beliefs.”

Can Americans survive the Obamacare health crisis? Dr. Lee Hieb gives critically important advice in her book, “Surviving the Medical Meltdown: Your Guide to Living Through the Disaster of Obamacare.”

He also said the Obama administration is constantly changing its position in this case.

“The administration hasn’t changed its views in this matter just once, not just twice, not just three times and not just four times,” he said. “They have changed their position 10 times in the course of this litigation. Every time they’ve changed their position, they’ve still managed to say, ‘Whatever else we do, we want to force the sisters to pay millions of dollars in fines if they don’t do what we want.'”

But given the lower courts siding with the government most of the time, why is Blomberg so confident the decisions would be different this time around?

“Every one of those decisions has been erased. They’re gone. The court sent a very clear signal that those decisions were going down the wrong path,” said Blomberg, who points out the government also confessed to the justices that it could apply the mandate without impacting the Little Sisters.

While the legal battle continues, Blomberg said he remains deeply impressed by the Little Sisters themselves.

“They are amazing human beings,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure and an honor to work with them. We’ve gotten to know them on a personal level. They couldn’t be more sincere.”

Leave a Comment