Supreme Court: Obama Admin Can’t Make Catholic Group Obey Pro-Abortion HHS Mandate

National   Steven Ertelt   Apr 27, 2015   |   3:30PM    Washington, DC

The Supreme Court issued an order today preventing the Obama administration from forcing a Catholic group in Michigan to obey the HHS mandate that requires them to pay for abortion-causing drugs for their employees. This is the fifth time the Supreme Court has rebuked the Obama administration and prevented it from making such a mandate.

For the sixth time in a row, the Supreme Court took steps to protect another religious objector from the HHS mandate. It ordered a lower court to reconsider its ruling that denied a group of Catholic ministries in Michigan the freedom to follow their faith.  

“The government keeps making the same bad arguments and the Supreme Court keeps rejecting them – every single time. This is because the government can obviously come up with ways to distribute contraceptives without the forced involvement of Catholic ministries,” said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which filed an amicus brief in the case. “As with the Supreme Court’s decisions in Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby, this is a strong signal that the Supreme Court will ultimately reject the government’s narrow view of religious liberty. And it makes it less likely that lower courts will accept arguments the Supreme Court has rejected over and over and over again.” 

As the Becket Fund noted, the Michigan Catholic Conference and other Catholic ministries brought their request to the Supreme Court after a surprising lower court decision that would have allowed large IRS fines against the ministries because they, based on their religious beliefs, cannot provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs in their employee health plans. The federal government has relied heavily on that decision in courts around the country, arguing that it should be able to impose similar burdens on religious ministries like the Little Sisters of the Poor. 

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In an order issued by the Supreme Court last month, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito prevented the federal government from enforcing its contraceptive mandate against a range of Pennsylvania-based religious organizations including Catholic Charities and other Catholic schools and social service organizations connected with the Diocese of Erie and the Diocese of Pittsburgh. The Supreme Court has previously protected the Little Sisters of the Poor, Hobby Lobby, Wheaton College, and the University of Notre Dame.

Lori Windham, Senior Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, told LifeNews: “How many times must the government lose in court before it gets the message? For years now the government has been claiming that places like Catholic Charities and the Little Sisters of the Poor are not “religious employers” worthy of an exemption.”

“That argument has always been absurd. Every time a religious plaintiff has gone to the Supreme Court for protection from the government’s discriminatory mandate the Court has protected them. That’s what happened to the Little Sisters of the Poor, Wheaton College, Notre Dame, and Hobby Lobby,” Windham continued. “The government really needs to give up on its illegal and unnecessary mandate. The federal bureaucracy has lots of options for distributing contraceptives–they don’t need to coerce nuns and priests to do it for them.”

A December 2013 Rasmussen Reports poll shows Americans disagree with forcing companies like Hobby Lobby to obey the mandate.

“Half of voters now oppose a government requirement that employers provide health insurance with free contraceptives for their female employees,” Rasmussen reports.

The poll found: “The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 38% of Likely U.S. Voters still believe businesses should be required by law to provide health insurance that covers all government-approved contraceptives for women without co-payments or other charges to the patient.

Fifty-one percent (51%) disagree and say employers should not be required to provide health insurance with this type of coverage. Eleven percent (11%) are not sure.”

Another recent poll found 59 percent of Americans disagree with the mandate.

US Supreme Court