Justice Antonin Scalia's Death Jeopardizes Little Sisters' Birth Control Mandate, Texas Abortion Law Cases

Little Sisters of the Poor
Members of a Catholic order of nuns known as the Little Sisters of the Poor stand outside the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals building in Denver, Colorado, along with William Mumma, President of the Becket Fund. |

The death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia could lead to re-argument of some key cases, including those related to exemptions from Obamacare's contraception mandate and a Texas abortion law, which are under review.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at a Reuters Newsmaker event in New York, Sept. 17, 2012. |

After Scalia's death on Saturday, their are now eight justices, which means a tie is possible given how those eight voted in the Hobby Lobby case in 2014.

Justice Scalia was a Reagan appointee and he strengthened conservative jurisprudence and focused on the Constitution's original meaning.

There is precedence to the possibility of Chief Justice Roberts ordering re-argument, former White House counsel and Ambassador C. Boyden Gray told Washington Examiner, explaining, "Some [cases] may be 4-4 and they may be sent down for re-argument when a replacement is found."

This can possibly affect Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell, which challenges the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate, as it is scheduled to be heard soon.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington is also part of the case, and they argue that the mandate, as well as the government's work-around set up for religious nonprofits in the earlier Hobby Lobby case, violate their religious freedom.

Oral arguments on some sections of Texas' 2013 anti-abortion law are also scheduled for next month, according to The Dallas Morning News.

The court is to determine how far states can go to regulate abortion, especially whether requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, and requiring all abortions to be performed in hospital-like surgical facilities, could amount to an undue burden for women in the state.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, has said Scalia should not be replaced until after the presidential election.

"The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President," he said in a statement.

President Obama said he will nonetheless nominate a successor. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, also said waiting would be a "shameful abdication" of the Senate's responsibility.

After Justice Scalia's death, many Christian groups and leaders expressed concern over pending cases.

"With the passing of Justice Scalia, the future of the High Court and the future of America is hanging in the balance," Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, said in a statement.

Alan Sears, CEO and General Counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom President, remembered Justice Scalia as "a true friend of ordered liberty and of all Americans." He was the "most vocal and passionate voice on the Supreme Court for religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family over the past three decades," he said.

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