The Catholic order of nuns called the Little Sisters of the Poor today filed papers with the Supreme Court asking it to take it case against the Obama administration, which is attempting to make it comply with the HHS mandate that compels religious companies to pay for birth control and abortion-causing drugs for their employees.
The request comes after a surprising decision by a federal appeals court that has determined that the Little Sisters of the Poor must comply with Obamacare’s abortion mandate.
Without relief, the Little Sisters face millions of dollars in IRS fines because they cannot comply with the government’s mandate that they give their employees free access to contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.
Previously, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily protected the Little Sisters from the mandate. The Little Sisters then went before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to extend that protection, but the appeals court ruled against them.
“The government has lost every single time they have made these arguments before the Supreme Court—including last year’s landmark Hobby Lobby case. One would think they would get the message and stop pressuring the Sisters,” said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead attorney for the Little Sisters of the Poor. “The government is willing to exempt big companies like Exxon, Chevron, and Pepsi Bottling, but it won’t leave the Little Sisters alone.”
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and leading Supreme Court advocate Paul Clement—the same legal team that won Hobby Lobby—filed the petition on behalf of the Little Sisters as well as the Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust, Christian Brothers Services, Reaching Souls International, Truett-McConnell College, and GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.They are all parties to the Little Sisters case.
Today’s petition is the fifth the Court has received and makes it likely the Court will decide in the upcoming term whether religious ministries, like religious for-profits, will receive protection from the Mandate.
“The Sisters consider it immoral to help the government distribute these drugs. But instead of simply exempting them, the government insists that it can take over their ministry’s employee healthcare to distribute these drugs to their employees, while dismissing the Sisters’ moral objections as irrelevant,” said Rienzi. “In America, judges and government bureaucrats have no authority to tell the Little Sisters what is moral or immoral. And the government can distribute its drugs without nuns—it has its own healthcare exchanges that can provide whatever it wants.”
“As Little Sisters of the Poor we dedicate our lives to serving the neediest in society, with love and dignity. We perform this loving ministry because of our faith and simply cannot choose between our care for the elderly poor and our faith, and we shouldn’t have to,” said Sr. Loraine Marie Maguire, Mother Provincial of the Little Sisters of the Poor. “We hope the Supreme Court will hear our case and ensure that people from diverse faiths can freely follow God’s calling in their lives.”
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The Tenth Circuit heard oral argument in this case December of last year, when for the first time since the case began, Sr. Loraine Marie Maguire, Mother Provincial of the Little Sisters of the Poor, delivered a public statement on the case.
The Tenth Circuit ruled that government can force the Little Sisters to either violate their faith or pay massive IRS penalties. The court held that participating in the government’s contraception delivery scheme is “as easy as obtaining a parade permit, filing a simple tax for, or registering to vote” and that although the Sisters sincerely believe that participating in the scheme “make[s] them complicit in the overall delivery scheme,” the court “ultimately rejects the merits of this claim,” because the court believes the scheme relieves [the Little Sisters] from complicity.”
The Little Sisters and their attorneys are closely reviewing the court’s decision and will decide soon whether they must seek relief from the Supreme Court.
“We will keep on fighting for the Little Sisters, even if that means having to go all the way to the Supreme Court,” said Daniel Blomberg, Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
The Court’s order similarly harms Christian Brothers Services and Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust, the Catholic ministries through which the Little Sisters obtain their health coverage.
Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that the Christian-run Hobby Lobby doesn’t have to obey the HHS mandate that is a part of Obamacare that requires businesses to pay for abortion causing drugs in their employee health care plans.
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.