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Will Trump’s contraceptives mandate exemption for Little Sisters survive a Supreme Court challenge?

Will Trump’s contraceptives mandate exemption for Little Sisters survive a Supreme Court challenge?

Sister Loraine McGuire with Little Sisters of the Poor speaks to the media after Zubik v. Burwell, an appeal brought by Christian groups demanding full exemption from the requirement to provide insurance covering contraception under the Affordable Care Act, was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington March 23, 2016. | (Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

An attorney with a law firm that specializes in religious liberty cases is confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in favor of religious freedom protections for the Little Sisters of the Poor.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments over telephone regarding a lawsuit the Little Sisters of the Poor leveled against Pennsylvania.

At issue was Pennsylvania’s litigation against the Trump administration over a new federal rule that broadened religious and moral exemptions to groups opposed to the Department of Health and Human Services’ contraceptives mandate.

Diana Verm, senior counsel at Becket Law, which helped represent the Little Sisters and who listened to the oral arguments, told The Christian Post that she thought the oral arguments “went very well.”

“You could hear the justices seeking a way to resolve this longstanding dispute. I do think that at the end of the day that they will rule in favor of the Little Sisters and I think the big question that we are asking now is how they will do that,” Verm said.

Verm felt that one of the strongest arguments in favor of the nuns was that “there was no way to get rid of the exemptions the government has offered the Little Sisters without getting rid of the exemptions that the former administration offered to churches.”

“All along, since the very beginning of the contraceptive mandate, there’s been an exemption for churches and some religious orders, but not for the Little Sisters of the Poor,” she said.

“No one had an argument, none of the justices and none of the counsels for Pennsylvania had a good argument for why that exemption shouldn’t apply to the Little Sisters.”

In 2017, the Trump administration decided that the religious exemption to the HHS mandate on contraceptive services would be broadened to better accommodate groups like the Little Sisters.

Pennsylvania and California sued the federal government over the new broader exemption, with Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Virginia joining California’s litigation.

In November 2017, the Little Sisters filed a motion to intervene on the litigation, arguing that the states were threatening the nuns’ religious liberty.

“The Little Sisters cannot stand idly by while Pennsylvania threatens their ministry by trying to snatch away the protections the Sisters have fought so long to keep,” read the motion in the Pennsylvania…

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