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Culture Beat / May 16, 2016

And Now for Some Good News: Little Sisters Win Big

Under this administration, we’ll take any victories we can get.

It wasn’t a sweeping edict, but the eight-justice Supreme Court, seemingly at a stalemate over the birth control mandate enacted under ObamaCare, gave religious organizations a temporary — and hopefully more permanent — victory. According to The Heritage Foundation’s Roger Severino and Elizabeth Slattery, “In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court ‘vacated,’ meaning erased, all of the lower court cases and required them to reconsider the claims brought by the Little Sisters of the Poor and others that the regulations promulgated pursuant to Obamacare violate their religious exercise in light of the government’s admission that it could indeed provide contraceptive coverage without the Little Sisters’ collaboration.”

It stands to reason that the mandate likely would have been struck down completely with Justice Antonin Scalia’s vote. So if there’s any bad news, it’s that the legal tussle isn’t permanently put to rest. But as David French observes, “There’s no doubt that it would have been preferable to win the case on the merits, but this is not the outcome the Obama administration hoped for, and it’s better than the 4-4 tie that most people predicted. A tie would have let stand rulings against the Little Sisters and most of the other religious organizations challenging the mandate. This outcome, by contrast, provides a judicial roadmap for a national victory for religious liberty.”

Severino and Slattery add, “In the coming months, the lower courts will reconsider these challenges but it is hard to see how the administration and the lower courts can find a way to get around the Supreme Court’s unanimous order — making the decision a big victory for the Little Sisters of the Poor.” Under this administration, we’ll take any victories we can get. Let’s just be thankful that Merrick Garland isn’t on the bench. Otherwise today’s outcome would have looked very different.

> For more on this case, see here.

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