On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered New York's top court to rehear a case against a group of charities that challenged the state's controversial abortion mandate, which forces nuns to violate their religious beliefs. The nuns are part of a coalition of religious groups that asked the high court to protect them from the abortion mandate that requires them to violate their religious beliefs.
The New York Court of Appeals, upon the order of the U.S. Supreme Court, now has to reconsider the case Diocese of Albany v. Emami, a lawsuit that challenges the state of New York's measure requiring employers to cover abortions in their employee health insurance plans, Faithwire reported. The Supreme Court declined to take the case because of a major ruling it handed down earlier this year, in which it ruled for a Catholic charity in Philadelphia that refused to screen same-sex couples as foster parents.
In that particular case called Fulton v. Philadelphia, the city's refusal to contract with the charity because of its same-sex couple policy violated the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, Fox News reported. Meanwhile in the New York case, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany argued that the state's abortion insurance mandate for employers, which was established in 2017, violates the diocese's First Amendment rights.
Two law firms, Becket and Jones Day, are representing the plaintiffs in the New York case, which was filed by the Sisterhood of Saint Mary, an Anglican order of nuns who serve others through youth outreach, as well as the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm, the First Bible Baptist Church of Hilton, New York, and Catholic Charities.
"We're grateful that the Supreme Court has taken action in our case and hopeful that, this time around, the New York Court of Appeals will preserve our ability to serve and encourage our neighbors," Mother Miriam of the Sisterhood of Saint Mary said in a statement.
Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger shared Mother Miriam's sentiments, saying, "We are gratified and grateful that the Supreme Court has recognized the serious constitutional concerns over New York State's heavy-handed abortion mandate on religious employers."
Eric Baxter, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, accused the state of New York of "needlessly threatening charities" and "punishing faith groups," which he called "cruel and counterproductive." New York's abortion mandate has a strict religious exemption for faith groups that serve and hire people of the same religion.
The Sisterhood of St. Mary, however, is not eligible because it sponsors a 4-H club and enables local youth to lease some of their Cashmere goats for their agricultural outreach ministry. Nuns at the Sisterhood of St. Mary first sought exemptions from the abortion mandate from the New York court, but the judicial system had upheld the order.