The Supreme Court has remanded Zubik v. Burwell, concerning the HHS contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act, back to the lower courts. It did not decide whether or not the mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and instead essentially punted the case down for further proceedings. This means that the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of women religious, will not face fines for not providing contraception coverage.
Zubik v. Burwell is the combined lawsuit of The Little Sisters of the Poor, Priests for Life, and several other religious universities, who claimed that providing birth control to employees via insurance plans was a violation of their religious beliefs.
In Zubik v. Burwell, re ACA contraceptive mandate, Court remands lower-court judgments for further proceedings.— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) May 16, 2016
The Court has not decided whether the birth-control mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) May 16, 2016
In the ruling (which was unanimous), both parties were urged to figure out a plan via the lower courts that can accommodate everyone.
Reactions to the ruling were decidedly mixed:
And since SCOTUS vacated the lower court rulings, this is basically a win for Little Sisters. For now. https://t.co/9mnNRRe8wu— Ryan T. Anderson (@RyanTAnd) May 16, 2016
This is an invitation for Obama admin to issue new regs taking religious employers out of the loop on contraception. pic.twitter.com/M1ejFvyQSF— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) May 16, 2016
LOL. No. They kicked the cases back to lower courts and urged both parties to find compromise. https://t.co/P8wPRJxVir— Erin Gloria Ryan (@morninggloria) May 16, 2016
Gigantic punt, leaves tens of thousands of women in limbo for another year or more. https://t.co/4Fujr0oQpk— Greg Lipper (@theglipper) May 16, 2016
Big win for religious liberty -- big win for little sisters of the poor pic.twitter.com/nqILJaEgR4— Sondra Clark (@SondraClark) May 16, 2016
Little Sisters’ attorneys praise today's SCOTUS decision, calling it “an important win,” adding that battle’s not over.— Mollie (@MZHemingway) May 16, 2016
This post has been updated.