Score one for the little sisters of the poor

President Obama has lost the latest round in his fight against the Little Sisters of the Poor. The Supreme Court, with no recorded dissent, has enjoined the Obama administration from enforcing the Obamacare mandate against the Little Sisters of the Poor and their co-plaintiffs while their appeal is pending in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

More precisely, as Ed Whelan explains, to escape the mandate while their appeal is pending, the Little Sisters need only inform the Department of Health and Human Services in writing that it is a nonprofit organization that holds itself out as religious and that it has religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services. The Supreme Court ruled that the Little Sisters “need not use the [certification] form prescribed by the Government and need not send copies to third-party administrators.”

The distinction between the two forms of filing is significant. The filing prescribed by the Obama administration could lead to coverage of the contraceptive services for employees — that is the basis for the Little Sisters’ objection to it (the government disputes this, even as it insists that its form be filed). The filing prescribed by the Supreme Court cannot lead to such coverage.

However, the Court stressed that it was not expressing any view on the merits of the Little Sisters’ case.


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