The Little Sisters of the Poor fight back

It’s sad, but not surprising, that the Obama administration is waging its war on women against nuns. Under Obamacare, religious Orders like the Little Sisters of the Poor in Colorado are required to facilitate the free distribution of contraceptives and abortifacients to any of their employees who desire them. If they refuse, they face heavy government fines that will endanger their ability to carry out their charitable work.

The Obama administration defends imposing this outrageous burden on their religious beliefs on the theory that the Little Sisters can avoid the problem by simply signing a form certifying that they have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services. A copy would then go to their third-party insurance administrator which would provide the coverage.

But this would mean authorizing a third party to commit on their behalf, which the nuns consider a sin. This obviously is an unacceptable solution.

Accordingly, the Little Sisters of the Poor are fighting back. They have obtained from Justice Sotomayor a temporary injunction against a district order requiring them to sign the government’s form or face heavy financial penalties. Now, they have asked the Supreme Court to keep the injunction in place pending appellate review of the district court’s order or, alternatively, for a writ of certiorari (under which the Supreme Court would review the matter) and an injunction pending Supreme Court review.

Here are some excerpts from the Reply Brief filed in the Supreme Court on Friday by the Little Sisters of the Poor in support of their application:

The temporary injunction issued Tuesday night saved Mother Provincial Loraine Marie Maguire from the choice of violating her faith by executing the government’s required form, or exposing the Little Sisters’ ministry to decimation by IRS penalties. She exercised her religion that night, and each day since, by acting in accordance with God’s will as she understands it. The temporary injunction protected, and continues to protect, that religious exercise. . . .

Respondents [the Obama Administration] are simply blind to the religious exercise at issue: the Little Sisters and other Applicants cannot execute the form because they cannot deputize a third party to sin on their behalf. Respondents’ casual dismissal of that religiously forbidden act as a mere “stroke of their own pen,” perpetuates their claim below that the Little Sisters are fighting an “invisible dragon.” But minimizing someone’s religious beliefs does not make them disappear. . . .

The only solution that makes no sense is the one the government seeks—letting the injunction expire and exacting from the Little Sisters huge fines as the price of continuing to exercise their religion. That outcome would be wrong even if the government claimed its form mattered. But here—where the government openly admits that executing the form is, from the government’s perspective, meaningless paperwork—that outcome is indefensible. . . .

Allowing the injunction to expire and leaving Applicants without protection would mean hundreds of organizations would remain subject to illegal government coercion that jeopardizes their continued ministries. The slight advantages that could be gained from waiting for further percolation of this issue—which has already generated more than 20 lower court opinions—do not outweigh the significant disruption and distortion to the religious landscape Respondents would impose, especially for something Respondents claim to view as meaningless.

Obama’s contempt for the deeply held religious beliefs of Catholics (and all Christians) should come as no surprise. As a candidate for president, Obama belittled folks who cling to their religion (or their guns).

Even so, I never imagined that Obama would end up litigating against the Little Sisters of the Poor. Kind of says it all, doesn’t it?


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