Little Sister of the Poor on defying ObamaCare mandate: 'We believe in the dignity of every human life'

Little Sisters of the Poor Sister Constance Veit and Judicial Crisis Network President Carrie Severino joined "Fox News @ Night" Tuesday to discuss an ongoing Supreme Court case over whether religious groups are exempt from the ObamaCare contraception mandate.

"Well, at stake is the religious exemption that was granted ... to us by the Supreme Court back in 2016 and which the states have been trying to take away from us," explained Veit, the order's communications director. "But, also at stake is the government's ability to give any religious entity an exemption on religious grounds. So, it's crucial [for] us, but it's also a lot bigger than we are.

HOW TO LISTEN TO SUPREME COURT'S ORAL ARGUMENTS

"We dedicate our lives to this because we believe in the dignity of every human life at every stage of life from conception until natural death," Veit continued. "So, we've devoted our lives -- by religious vows -- to caring for the elderly. And, we literally are by their bedside holding their hand as they pass on to eternal life. So, it's unthinkable for us, on the one way, to be holding the hand of the dying elderly, and on the other hand, to possibly be facilitating the taking of innocent unborn life."

Little Sisters of the Poor outside the Supreme Court on March 23, 2016 after Zubik v. Burwell, an appeal brought by Christian groups demanding full exemption from the contraceptive mandate, was heard.

Little Sisters of the Poor outside the Supreme Court on March 23, 2016 after Zubik v. Burwell, an appeal brought by Christian groups demanding full exemption from the contraceptive mandate, was heard. (Reuters)

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two consolidated cases -- including the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor --  involving competing interests related to the Affordable Care Act: birth control and religious liberty.

The law, commonly known as ObamaCare, requires employers to provide health insurance that covers contraception but provides an exemption for religious organizations. At issue are challenges to new Trump administration rules which make it easier for some for-profit companies and religious-affiliated groups to opt out of providing contraception coverage to employees without providing an alternate avenue for coverage if they had a religious or moral objection.

A judge blocked the Trump administration's rule change from taking effect after New Jersey and Pennsylvania challenged it, and that decision was upheld by a circuit court ruling. The White House and Little Sisters of the Poor are appealing, although in summer of 2019 a Texas federal judge’s ruling allowed for most employers to get out of providing coverage for contraception if they objected to doing so.

Wednesday was the third day of the court conducting oral arguments via teleconference, with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to participate from her Baltimore hospital room. Instead of justices jumping in with rapid-fire questions as the attorneys for each side present their cases, this format has had justices taking turns and asking questions in order of seniority.

Rulings in the cases, which are Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania and Trump v. Pennsylvania, are expected by the end of June.

Also at issue is the consideration of Judge Justin Walker for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Walker, 37, was nominated by President Trump early last month and appeared at a Wednesday morning hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The young judge currently sits in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky and would join what is widely considered the second most powerful bench in the United States.

Judge Justin Walker faces the Senate Judiciary Committee in a confirmation hearing.

Judge Justin Walker faces the Senate Judiciary Committee in a confirmation hearing.

Severino told Bream Walker has a "big target on his back" because Democrats see the success the Trump administration has had with putting "outstanding, talented, young judges on the courts."

Walker is known for his strong opinions about religious freedom.

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"He's someone [who] we know is willing to stand up when he knows he's going to get pushback for those constitutional principles," Severino remarked. "That's going to earn him a hard hearing tomorrow [Wednesday]."

"But, you know," she added, "what was amazing is the notoriously liberal [American Bar Association] actually gave him a well-qualified rating that just came out today. So, I think it's going to be hard for the Democrats to argue that what they're doing here is anything other than just raw partisan politics in trying to oppose him."

Fox News' Tyler Olson, Adam Shaw, Shannon Bream, Ronn Blitzer, Bill Mears, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.