An Update (and timeline) To “The Little Sisters of the Poor”

Breitbart gives us this update to my “time-line” of activity against the religious people of the Catholic Church:

Approximately 100 million Americans do not have health insurance plans covered by Obamacare’s HHS contraception mandate because the Obama administration has exempted plans for big corporations, large cities, and the U.S. military.

The same administration, however, insists that a group of Catholic nuns who care for the elderly poor provide its employees free contraception, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization procedures–all of which are against its faith–or be forced to pay $70 million in punitive fines.

According to a press release by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty–which represents the Little Sisters of the Poor–the Obama administration has exempted corporations such as Chevron, Exxon, Visa, and Pepsi Bottling from the HHS mandate, as well as large cities like New York City. The Little Sisters have now asked the U.S. Supreme Court to protect them from the mandate.

The Obama administration claims that, through an “accommodation,” it has offered to reimburse the costs of the services it requires the Little Sisters to provide–so they should have no moral objection to complying with the mandate. The Little Sisters, however, say their legal challenge is not about money, but conscience and the freedom not to offer services in their healthcare plan that conflict with their beliefs.

[….]

More than 40 friend-of-the-court briefs have been filed at the Supreme Court on behalf of the Little Sisters. The high court will hear their case on March 23. [WITHOUT SCALIA!]

December 14, 2014

Three main points from the brief, via Westword:

  1. The brief lays out three main complaints about the procedure. The first? Since the form “designates, authorizes, incentivizes, and obligates third parties to provide or arrange contraceptive coverage in connection with the plan,” the brief contends that “once the Little Sisters execute and deliver the Form, the Mandate purports to make it irrevocably part of the plan by forbidding the Little Sisters to even talk to the outside companies that administer their health plan, ‘directly or indirectly,’ to ask them not to provide the coverage.”
  2. In addition, the brief allows that “regardless of whether the government sincerely believes EBSA Form 700 is morally meaningful, the relevant legal question is whether the Little Sisters do. And on that point, there is no dispute: the Little Sisters cannot execute and deliver the contraceptive coverage form without violating their religious conscience. The government may think the Little Sisters should reason differently about law and morality, but their actual religious beliefs — the beliefs that matter in this case — have led them to conclude that they cannot sign or send the government’s Form.”
  3. Finally, the government’s so-called “scheme” is said to violate the First Amendment, because it has “exempted a large class of religious organizations based on unfounded guesswork about the likely religious characteristics of different religious organizations. The government has no power to discriminate in this fashion, allowing some religious organizations to survive while crushing others with fines for the identical religious exercise. This violation of the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses is compounded by a clear violation of the Free Speech Clause: the Mandate both compels the Little Sisters to engage in government-required speech against their will, and prohibits them from engaging in speech they wish to make.”

Another short commentary on what took place just a couple days ago via The Daily Signal:

Some organizations are fighting back against the accommodation because it simply shifts responsibility for purchasing coverage away from the employers, and it is still the employer’s action that triggers the objectionable coverage. This bureaucratic tweak to the accommodation, issued this past August, still does not adequately protect the religious freedom of many charities, schools and other religious organizations.

Writing for the court, Judge Cornelia Pillard found that CUA and Priests for Life failed to show that the accommodation substantially burdens their religious exercise. Instead, Pillard concluded that the only harm was Priests for Life’s feelings of being genuinely “aggrieved by their inability to prevent what other people would do….” Pillard recognized that though the accommodation may violate the challengers’ conscience, it allows the challengers to “wash their hands of any involvement in providing insurance coverage for contraceptive services.”

Essentially the court determined that the accommodation is fine because it doesn’t directly force the groups to violate their conscience.

Yet a regulation can still be a substantial religious burden even if the effect is only indirect.

The U.S. Supreme Court said as much in Thomas v. Review Board over 30 years ago. In this case, a Jehovah’s Witness steelworker was denied unemployment benefits after quitting his job because he was transferred to a part of his company that made weapons. Because of his belief in non-violence, Thomas could not participate in the manufacture of weapons. In siding with Thomas, the Supreme Court noted that “[I]t is not within the judicial function and judicial competence to inquire whether [Thomas] correctly perceived the commands of [his] faith. Courts are not arbiters of scriptural interpretation.” Instead, the Court would defer to a religious believer’s interpretation unless the claim was so bizarre or had a non-religious motivation, elements even the government concedes do not apply to Priests for Life or the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Thus, what Judge Pillard calls “a bit of paperwork” is exactly what Priests for Life find morally wrong.

What may seem trivial to one person may give rise to a serious religious dilemma for another. For example, Orthodox Jews may not flip light switches or press buttons on the Sabbath.

In short, courts should not be in the business of line-drawing when it comes to theological questions. Though the Obama administration won the round in the battle over the abortion-inducing drug mandate before the D.C. Circuit, the fight continues with the Little Sisters of the Poor.

January 5, 2014

Divided We Stand

The Supreme Court case is Little Sister of the Poor v. Sebelius, 13A691. The other cases are Priests for Life v. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 13-05368, and Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington v. Sebelius, 13-05371, U.S. Court of Appeals for District of Columbia (Washington).

exempt-from-obamacare-2

I posted about the Little Sisters a while ago, and we will be entering into a new faze of this issue soon:

The Obama administration was temporarily blocked by a U.S. Supreme Court justice from forcing an order of Catholic nuns to comply with a federal requirement to provide free contraceptive coverage for employees.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s two-sentence order will last at least until Jan. 3, the deadline she gave the administration to respond to a bid by the Denver and Baltimore chapters of the Little Sisters of the Poor for an exemption to the mandate. The Supreme Court released the order last night, a half hour before the mandate took effect.

The request by the nuns was one of four lodged with the court yesterday by groups claiming the administration isn’t doing enough to accommodate religious objections to the contraceptive rule. The requirement stems from the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act….

[….]

Tatel was appointed by President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, while the other judges on the panel that granted yesterday’s order, Karen Henderson and Janice Rogers Brown, were nominated, respectively, by George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, both Republicans. Jackson was named to the bench by Obama, a Democrat….

…read more…

Meet the Sisters

Via Gateway Pundit:

The Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic religious group for women who have dedicated their lives to the service of the elderly, is concerned that after more than a century of service the Obama Administration will force them out of the United States. The order was previously banned in China and Myanmar. The Obama Admininistration may force them out of the United States.

The religious order claims the so-called contraception mandate in ObamaCare will make it impossible for them to continue their work in the United States.

Does Sotomoyer see the dangers in this? Gateway Pundit Updates:

  • Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor blocked the Obama administration from forcing the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide free contraceptive coverage to employees. The Little Sisters of the Poor serve the elderly poor in over 30 countries around the world.

December 20, 2012

Via Gateway Pundit:

The Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic religious group for women who have dedicated their lives to the service of the elderly, is concerned that after more than a century of service the Obama Administration will force them out of the United States. The order was previously banned in China and Myanmar. The Obama Admininistration may force them out of the United States.

The religious order claims the so-called contraception mandate in ObamaCare will make it impossible for them to continue their work in the United States.

FOX News reported:

The Government Continues It’s Case Against Religious Freedom

Three main points from the brief, via Westword:

  1. The brief lays out three main complaints about the procedure. The first? Since the form “designates, authorizes, incentivizes, and obligates third parties to provide or arrange contraceptive coverage in connection with the plan,” the brief contends that “once the Little Sisters execute and deliver the Form, the Mandate purports to make it irrevocably part of the plan by forbidding the Little Sisters to even talk to the outside companies that administer their health plan, ‘directly or indirectly,’ to ask them not to provide the coverage.”
  2. In addition, the brief allows that “regardless of whether the government sincerely believes EBSA Form 700 is morally meaningful, the relevant legal question is whether the Little Sisters do. And on that point, there is no dispute: the Little Sisters cannot execute and deliver the contraceptive coverage form without violating their religious conscience. The government may think the Little Sisters should reason differently about law and morality, but their actual religious beliefs — the beliefs that matter in this case — have led them to conclude that they cannot sign or send the government’s Form.”
  3. Finally, the government’s so-called “scheme” is said to violate the First Amendment, because it has “exempted a large class of religious organizations based on unfounded guesswork about the likely religious characteristics of different religious organizations. The government has no power to discriminate in this fashion, allowing some religious organizations to survive while crushing others with fines for the identical religious exercise. This violation of the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses is compounded by a clear violation of the Free Speech Clause: the Mandate both compels the Little Sisters to engage in government-required speech against their will, and prohibits them from engaging in speech they wish to make.”

Another short commentary on what took place just a couple days ago via The Daily Signal:

Some organizations are fighting back against the accommodation because it simply shifts responsibility for purchasing coverage away from the employers, and it is still the employer’s action that triggers the objectionable coverage. This bureaucratic tweak to the accommodation, issued this past August, still does not adequately protect the religious freedom of many charities, schools and other religious organizations.

Writing for the court, Judge Cornelia Pillard found that CUA and Priests for Life failed to show that the accommodation substantially burdens their religious exercise. Instead, Pillard concluded that the only harm was Priests for Life’s feelings of being genuinely “aggrieved by their inability to prevent what other people would do….” Pillard recognized that though the accommodation may violate the challengers’ conscience, it allows the challengers to “wash their hands of any involvement in providing insurance coverage for contraceptive services.”

Essentially the court determined that the accommodation is fine because it doesn’t directly force the groups to violate their conscience.

Yet a regulation can still be a substantial religious burden even if the effect is only indirect.

The U.S. Supreme Court said as much in Thomas v. Review Board over 30 years ago. In this case, a Jehovah’s Witness steelworker was denied unemployment benefits after quitting his job because he was transferred to a part of his company that made weapons. Because of his belief in non-violence, Thomas could not participate in the manufacture of weapons. In siding with Thomas, the Supreme Court noted that “[I]t is not within the judicial function and judicial competence to inquire whether [Thomas] correctly perceived the commands of [his] faith. Courts are not arbiters of scriptural interpretation.” Instead, the Court would defer to a religious believer’s interpretation unless the claim was so bizarre or had a non-religious motivation, elements even the government concedes do not apply to Priests for Life or the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Thus, what Judge Pillard calls “a bit of paperwork” is exactly what Priests for Life find morally wrong.

What may seem trivial to one person may give rise to a serious religious dilemma for another. For example, Orthodox Jews may not flip light switches or press buttons on the Sabbath.

In short, courts should not be in the business of line-drawing when it comes to theological questions. Though the Obama administration won the round in the battle over the abortion-inducing drug mandate before the D.C. Circuit, the fight continues with the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Headed Into the New Year Divided (Updated)

Divided We Stand

The Supreme Court case is Little Sister of the Poor v. Sebelius, 13A691. The other cases are Priests for Life v. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 13-05368, and Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington v. Sebelius, 13-05371, U.S. Court of Appeals for District of Columbia (Washington).

I posted about the Little Sisters a while ago, and we will be entering into a new faze of this issue soon:

The Obama administration was temporarily blocked by a U.S. Supreme Court justice from forcing an order of Catholic nuns to comply with a federal requirement to provide free contraceptive coverage for employees.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s two-sentence order will last at least until Jan. 3, the deadline she gave the administration to respond to a bid by the Denver and Baltimore chapters of the Little Sisters of the Poor for an exemption to the mandate. The Supreme Court released the order last night, a half hour before the mandate took effect.

The request by the nuns was one of four lodged with the court yesterday by groups claiming the administration isn’t doing enough to accommodate religious objections to the contraceptive rule. The requirement stems from the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act….

[….]

Tatel was appointed by President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, while the other judges on the panel that granted yesterday’s order, Karen Henderson and Janice Rogers Brown, were nominated, respectively, by George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, both Republicans. Jackson was named to the bench by Obama, a Democrat….

…read more…

Meet the Sisters

Via Gateway Pundit:

The Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic religious group for women who have dedicated their lives to the service of the elderly, is concerned that after more than a century of service the Obama Administration will force them out of the United States. The order was previously banned in China and Myanmar. The Obama Admininistration may force them out of the United States.

The religious order claims the so-called contraception mandate in ObamaCare will make it impossible for them to continue their work in the United States.

Does Sotomoyer see the dangers in this? Gateway Pundit Updates:

Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor blocked the Obama administration from forcing the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide free contraceptive coverage to employees. The Little Sisters of the Poor serve the elderly poor in over 30 countries around the world.

Obama Admin May Do What Only China and Myanmar Have Done ~ Ban (through legislation) `Little Sisters of the Poor`

Via Gateway Pundit:

The Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic religious group for women who have dedicated their lives to the service of the elderly, is concerned that after more than a century of service the Obama Administration will force them out of the United States. The order was previously banned in China and Myanmar. The Obama Admininistration may force them out of the United States.

The religious order claims the so-called contraception mandate in ObamaCare will make it impossible for them to continue their work in the United States.

FOX News reported: