AG Paxton Leads 20-State Coalition Defending  Religious Freedom of Little Sisters of the Poor

AUSTIN March 11, 2020 - Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton led a 20-state coalition in a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the United States Supreme Court in support of the Little Sisters of the Poor’s right to an exemption from the contraceptive mandate imposed by the Obama-era U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The mandate required all employers to offer insurance coverage for contraceptives; however, the Trump administration recently issued a rule that allowed the Little Sisters and similar religious employers to claim a religious exemption from the mandate.  

 “To deny this exemption is to deny the religious liberty and rights of conscience granted to all citizens. The Trump administration did the right thing by granting a religious exemption necessary to protect the Little Sisters and others like them,” said Attorney General Paxton. “Federal law requires the government to respect religious beliefs, and we have faith that the Supreme Court will uphold this core tenet of our Constitution. To force others to violate their religious beliefs is not just unconstitutional, it is unconscionable.”  

 The Little Sisters, a Pennsylvania-based group of Catholic nuns who care for the elderly poor, defied the Obamacare mandate to subsidize the provision of contraceptives to their employees and have waged a years-long battle against the Obamacare mandate all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously overturned lower court rulings against the Little Sisters; however, California and Pennsylvania both challenged the Little Sisters’ religious exemption from the mandate under the Trump administration rule. According to the mandate, if the Little Sisters do not provide contraceptive coverage to employees, they will be required to pay thousands of dollars in government fines.  

 In November 2019, Attorney General Paxton led 16 states in a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of this exemption.  

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