The Supreme Court issued an order today to allow a group of nonprofit religious groups — led by the Little Sisters of the Poor — to temporarily opt out of the contraceptive mandate of Obamacare.
If the groups notify the secretary of the Health and Human Services that they have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services, the government cannot enforce the “challenged provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related regulations,” the high court ruled today.
The order is valid while the Little Sisters appeal their case in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
In a one-paragraph order, the court went out of its way to say that the religious groups “need not use the form” prescribed by the government, and “need not send copies to third-party administrators.”
The government had argued that there was no need for an injunction because the Little Sisters are already eligible for “religious accommodations” set out in the regulations that exempt them from any requirement to “contract, arrange, pay or refer for contraceptive coverage.”
The government argued that all the Little Sisters had to do was sign a form and provide a copy of it to the third-party administrator of their self-insured group health plan. But the Little Sisters had argued that even having to sign the form violated their religious freedom .
The court said it was issuing the order but that it should not be “construed as an expression of the Court’s views on the merits.”
There were no noted dissents.
Planned Parenthood, which sided with the government on the case, noted that the order “is not about the merits,” according to a statement. Instead, the case is “about paperwork, not religious liberty,” the group said.