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Noah Feldman

Supreme Court Birth Control Case Will Be Back

The Little Sisters of the Poor didn’t get everything they wanted.

50 years later we’re still arguing about it.

50 years later we’re still arguing about it.

Photographer: Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Catholic nuns, have been fighting the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act since 2013. Today the Supreme Court gave them a victory — but not the final victory they sought, namely that they’re automatically entitled to an exemption from the ACA under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Nonetheless, this ruling — along with other key decisions this term — demonstrates that the conservative majority of the court has definitively entered the era of religious exemptions.

If the idea of the Little Sisters before the Supreme Court rings a bell, congratulations on the acuity of your memory. After President Barack Obama signed the ACA, his Department of Health and Human Services gave an exemption to the contraceptive mandate to certain religious organizations like the Little Sisters, while still ensuring contraceptive care would reach their employees.