In a huge 11th-hour victory for pro-life advocates, the Supreme Court issued an order late Tuesday night stopping the Obama administration from forcing a group of Catholic nuns to obey the HHS mandate that compels them to pay for abortion-causing drugs and birth control.
The group Little Sisters of the Poor received a temporary injunction from the Supreme Court protecting them from the controversial HHS contraceptive mandate. The injunction means that the Little Sisters will not be forced to sign and deliver forms tonight authorizing and directing others to provide contraceptives, sterilizations and drugs and devices that cause abortions.
“We are delighted that the Supreme Court has issued this order protecting the Little Sisters,” said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel for the Becket Fund, a pro-life legal group that represented the organization. “The government has lots of ways to deliver contraceptives to people–it doesn’t need to force nuns to participate.”
The order was issued by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is the Justice assigned for emergency applications from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Justice Sotomayor also ordered the federal government to file a brief in response to the Little Sisters’ application.
She gave government officials until 10 a.m. EST Friday to respond to her order.
Prior to the order, preliminary injunctions had been awarded in 18 of the 20 similar cases in which relief had been requested.
“Virtually every other party who asked for protection from the mandate has been given it,” said Rienzi. “It makes no sense for the Little Sisters to be singled out for fines and punishment before they can even finish their suit.”
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The Little Sisters are joined in the lawsuit by religious health benefit providers, Christian Brothers Services, Christian Brothers Employee Benefits Trust. The Plaintiffs are also represented by Locke Lord, a national law firm, and by Kevin Walsh, a law professor at the University of Richmond.
Also yesterday, in a huge victory for Priests for Life, a pro-life organization, a federal appeals court issued a ruling saying it doesn’t have to pay massive fines to the federal government for not obeying the HHS mandate, which forces religious groups and companies to pay for birth control or abortion-causing drugs for their employees.
To date, there are currently 91 lawsuits challenging the unconstitutional HHS mandate.