Press Release

Supreme Court Protects Religious Charities from Government Mandate Rules in favor of Catholic Charities; Little Sisters may be next

Media Contact

Melinda Skea 202-349-7224 media@becketlaw.org

Additional Information

Washington, D.C. – Moments ago, after previously blocking the federal government’s HHS mandate for the sixth time in a row, the Supreme Court granted relief in the Zubik v. Burwell case to a group of Pennsylvania-based religious organizations, including Catholic Charities and other social service organizations.

“This is the sixth time the HHS mandate has been before the Supreme Court, and the sixth time it has lost,” said Eric Rassbach, Deputy General Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “Doesn’t our government have something better to do than fight charities serving the poor?”

Last month Justice Alito issued an interim order, protecting the charities and churches from complying with the HHS Mandate while their case continued. This was similar to the preliminary order Justice Sotomayor provided to the Little Sisters of the Poor on New Year’s Eve in 2013. The Pennsylvania-based religious organizations join over 750 plaintiffs in other nonprofit cases that have been granted protection from the unconstitutional HHS mandate, which forces religious ministries to either violate their faith or pay massive IRS penalties. In the order, handed down today, “[T]he respondents are enjoined from enforcing against the applicants the challenged provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related regulations pending final disposition of their petition for certiorari.”

“The government has lots of ways to achieve its goals without penalizing religious groups who serve those in need,” said Deputy General Counsel Eric Rassbach. “Every time a religious ministry has taken this issue to the Supreme Court, the government has lost and the religious plaintiffs have been granted relief.”

The Supreme Court has previously granted relief to the following religious objectors to the mandate: Little Sisters of the Poor (December 2013 and January 2014); Hobby Lobby (June 2014); Wheaton College (July 2014); University of Notre Dame (March 2015); Michigan Catholic Conference (April 2015), and one previous order in this case (April 2015).

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket Fund attorney, please contact Melinda Skea atmskea@becketfund.org or 202.349.7224.

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The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. For over 20 years, it has defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians. Its recent cases include three major Supreme Court victories: the landmark ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, and the 9-0 rulings in Holt v. Hobbs and Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, the latter of which The Wall Street Journal called one of “the most important religious liberty cases in a half century.”