Little Sisters return to the Supreme Court
The Little Sisters of the Poor asked the Supreme Court last night to protect them from the HHS contraceptive mandate again. Over the past three years the Supreme Court has twice protected the Catholic nuns, but the states have dragged them back to court. In Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Trump, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro threatened the Little Sisters’ ministry by challenging their religious exemption, forcing the Little Sisters to continue to defend themselves in court. After a loss in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the order of Catholic nuns is asking the Supreme Court to end their six year-long legal battle and let them keep their focus on serving the elderly poor.
In May 2016, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned lower court rulings against the Little Sisters and granted them an exemption from the HHS contraceptive mandate, which required the nuns to provide services such as the week-after pill in their health care plans or pay millions of dollars in fines. In 2018, HHS announced a new rule protecting religious non-profits, including the Little Sisters, but several states, including Pennsylvania and California, immediately sued the federal government to take that protection away, forcing the Little Sisters back to court.
“It has been six long years since we began our legal battle against government mandates that threaten our ministry,” said Mother Loraine Marie Maguire of the Little Sisters of the Poor. “We hope we have finally reached the end of this arduous process, that the Supreme Court will reaffirm their previous decision, and that we will soon be able to keep our focus on the elderly poor.”
In 2016, the government admitted, before the Supreme Court, that it has ways to get contraceptives to women without forcing the Little Sisters of the Poor to participate. In fact, California and Pennsylvania each have programs for providing contraceptives to women who want them. Yet these States sued to enforce the federal mandate on religious non-profits like the Little Sisters.
“This is a nonsensical political battle that has dragged on six years too long. These states have not been able to identify a single person who would lose contraceptive coverage under the new HHS rule, but they won’t rest until Catholic nuns are forced to pay for contraceptives,” said Mark Rienzi, president of Becket. “It is time for the Supreme Court to finally put this issue to rest.”
Article from https://www.becketlaw.org. Read article here.