Religious Liberty Gets a Huge Victory at Supreme Court
America has a long and proud tradition of upholding individual liberties, including perhaps one of the most precious liberties – the right and freedom to worship as one chooses. Under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, this freedom is clearly and unequivocally preserved. In a landmark decision earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a remarkable victory to a Catholic order of nuns whose religious faith prohibited them from supporting insurance coverage for contraceptives. At the Sejour-Gustave Law Firm, PLLC, we are carefully monitoring the progress of these issues, as they directly relate to the rights of all business owners in Florida and throughout our country.
Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), federal law mandated that certain employers who sponsor health insurance for their employees must offer coverage for birth control and contraceptives. Under the guidelines, this had to include many FDA-approved sterilization treatments, including some abortion-inducing medications. As the nuns are devout Catholics with a strong religious conviction against abortion or any contraceptive use, the order felt that this directly infringed upon their religious freedoms.
Under the Obamacare guidelines, there was a narrow exception regarding birth control. Religious organizations were exempt from the mandate. However, this exception did not apply to hospitals, schools and other organizations, even if they were religiously affiliated and shared a firm religious belief. Thus, the Catholic Order of Nuns, known as Little Sisters of the Poor, had a big decision to make. Either offer health coverage to employees and cover abortions and contraceptives (thus violating their faith) or forgo health coverage.
Supreme Court Victory
The U.S. Supreme Court decision reversed the mandate in part, by ruling that the federal government has the authority to expand religious freedom by virtue of exemption to the contraceptive mandate. In the 7-2 decision, the high Court determined that the Little Sisters of the Poor could be exempted from the mandate, thus allowing them to exclude such services and treatments from health coverage to their employees. However, this is unlikely the end of the story. The Court stopped short of reaching a conclusion regarding whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 specifically requires the government to permit religious orders and other faith-based groups to exclude coverage for contraceptives and abortion-related treatments, despite a federal mandate to offer them. Because the Court was not specifically asked to decide that narrow issue, it was able to forgo reaching a conclusion on that subject. Therefore, we should expect that this issue will arise again in the coming years.
If you are a small business owner facing complex litigation problems or seeking to preserve your right to run your business the way you wish, you may need the experienced counsel of a Miami and Fort Lauderdale business law firm. At the Sejour-Gustave Law Firm, PLLC, we are dedicated to not only helping our clients resolve difficult legal issues, but we are also a faith-based firm with an attorney who understands and appreciates the unique issues that business owners face when operating in this tumultuous and challenging political climate. Call us today to speak with an attorney and get the answers and help you need.