Supreme Court affirms Obamacare exemptions for religious groups, employers

In a 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court has affirmed that religious organizations can be exempted from certain Obamacare provisions, including those requiring employers to provide coverage for contraceptives, Breitbart reported Wednesday.

Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were the sole justices to dissent to the ruling.

Sending it back

The case involves the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic organization that has been fighting the contraceptive mandate in Obamacare, which is formally known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), since the law was first signed in 2013, as Breitbart notes. In its latest ruling, the Supreme Court allowed an exemption to the ACA put forth by the Trump administration to stand and, according to Breitbart, sent the “case back down to the lower courts for further adjudication.”

The Supreme Court also sent the case back to lower courts in 2016, Breitbart noted, prompting President Donald Trump to issue his 2017 executive order requiring the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create new rules protecting religious groups like Little Sisters of the Poor against mandates that violated their faith.

In this iteration of the suit, liberals were attempting to challenge Trump’s order — but to no avail.

Protecting religious freedom

The new ruling from the Supreme Court requires HHS to comply with Trump’s order and write new rules that would exempt religious organizations from certain Obamacare mandates, Breitbart reported.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote in a concurring brief that HHS is compelled by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to rewrite the rules.

“I would hold not only that it was appropriate for the Departments to consider RFRA, but also that the Departments were required by RFRA to create the religious exemption (or something very close to it),” Alito said, according to Breitbart.

In their dissent, however, Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg said that the courts were going too far in protecting religious freedom to the “nth degree.”

“Who could afford $70 million?”

Little Sisters of the Poor, for its part, reacted to the decision with celebration. “We always knew that God would protect us,” Sister Constance Veit said of the ruling on Thursday, according to Fox News. “We really trust in his providential care. And so, we knew that somehow, someday he would work things out for us.”

Under the current rules, the Little Sisters say they would have been subject to about $70 million in fines for not complying with the mandates, which would have closed them down.

“I mean, who could afford $70 million in fines a year?” Veit asked Thursday, as Fox reported.

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