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Little Sisters Supreme Court Decision Preserves Religious Liberty but Does Not Reach Delegation Issue

Washington, D.C., July 08, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The New Civil Liberties Alliance, a nonpartisan, nonprofit civil rights group, commends todaya??s U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the religious liberty of Catholic nuns in the Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania case. The Court ruled 7-2 in favor of the Little Sisters, holding that the religious exemption rule issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did not violate the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or the Administrative Procedure Act when it broadened the religious exemption to ACAa??s a??contraceptive mandate.a?? The mandate (deliberately left out of the ACA itself) was ordered by the Obama Administration in implementing regulations.Much of NCLAa??s amicus brief focused on the problem created by the ACAa??s extremely broad delegation of legislative power. When Congress unlawfully delegates legislative power to the Executive Branch. Justice Clarence Thomasa??s opinion for the Court explained that a??[n]o party has pressed a constitutional challenge to the breadth of the delegation involved here.a?? But he noted the a??extraordinarily a??broad general directiv[e]a??a?? Congress granted to HHS by the ACA, and he cited to Gundy, the Courta??s recent (but ultimately inconclusive) consideration of the nondelegation doctrine.The Court agreed with NCLA that the lower court improperly overturned the Trump Administrationa??s expansion of the religious exemption first created by the Obama Administration. NCLA is also the only amicus curiae that alerted the Court to the extremely broad delegation of authority to the agency found in the ACA. Under our Constitution, the President and the agencies he directs cannot legislate. NCLAa??s brief was the only one before the Court to raise this nondelegation concern.NCLA also argued that where, as here, an administrative agency had fashioned a rule to lessen the burden on religious liberty, such an action should not be disfavored by the Courts but welcomed. Todaya??s decision clearly ruled in favor of that proposition stating: a??a?¦the plain language of the statute clearly allows the Departments to create the preventive care standards as well as the religious and moral exemptions.a??NCLA released the following statements:
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