Less than a week after it heard the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor, the U.S. Supreme Court took the unusual step of asking for additional information, telling both sides to discuss alternative ways to avoid forcing religious women to provide services against their faith.
“This is an excellent development. Clearly the Supreme Court understood the Sisters’ concern that the government’s current scheme forces them to violate their religion,” said Mark Rienzi, lead attorney for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “We look forward to offering alternatives that protect the Little Sisters’ religious liberty while allowing the government to meet its stated goals.”
The Little Sisters of the Poor, a 175-year-old religious order of women who serve the elderly poor, have asked the Supreme Court for protection from a government mandate that already exempts 1 in 3 Americans, large corporations like Chevron, Exxon, and Pepsi, and the U.S. military. The High Court must decide whether the government can force the Little Sisters of the Poor to comply with this mandate and provide services that violate their faith, even though these same services could easily be offered through the government exchanges.
The Supreme Court today asked both the government and the Little Sisters of the Poor to file additional briefs by next month.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious ministries. (Transcript available here). A decision is expected in June.