Little Sisters of the Poor file lawsuit to stop HHS from forcing them to fund contraception coverage

posted at 8:41 am on September 25, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

In any other context, this would be political satire.  Instead, it’s a tragedy for religious liberty and just plain old common sense.  A group of Catholic nuns dedicated to social service — and, needless to say, chastity — had to file a lawsuit in Colorado to block enforcement of the HHS contraception mandate on their organization:

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius finalized a contraception mandate that ignores the fact groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor are religious organizations, according to a lawsuit filed to protect them against fines for refusing to comply with an Obamacare mandate.

“We cannot violate our vows by participating in the government’s program to provide access to abortion-inducing drugs,” Sister Loraine Marie said of a class-action lawsuit filed against the mandate on behalf of multiple religious organizations that provide health benefits.

Here are the employees of the LSP that HHS’ mandate insists have a need for employer-provided contraception:

Yes, these women certainly will be oppressed unless HHS rescues them by forcing their employer to subsidize their sexual activity.

Joel Gehrke reports that the Thomas Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has taken the case for the Sisters.  The suit has been filed in Colorado, where the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals granted an injunction against the mandate on behalf of Hobby Lobby this summer.  That’s a key for the Little Sisters, as Hobby Lobby had a tougher argument as a commercial operation for a religious exemption, and the precedent should work in their favor.  In fact, the only reason LSP doesn’t qualify for the HHS definition of their exemption now is because LSP services people regardless of religious faith, as their Catholic mission to the world demands.

Becket senior counsel Mark Rienzl put it well to the Washington Examiner:

“These women just want to take care of the elderly poor without being forced to violate the faith that animates their work. The money they collect should be used to care for the poor like it always has — and not to pay the IRS,” he said.

Any law that requires a lawsuit to get to that common-sense conclusion should be thrown out, as well as the politicians that passed it.


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That’s dangerous thinking claiming that women, instead of the government, can care for the poor. This mandate is just meant to screw them over in the belief they will need to discontinue their efforts to serve the poor.

philoquin on September 25, 2013 at 8:47 AM

I support their battle here, but the RCC long ago got in bed with the state, particularly the welfare state, and now they are dealing with the monster.

Again, more power to them, but RCs need to wake up on a wide range of issues.

According to Pew, RCs voted 51/48 for Obama knowing what Obamacare implies. The USCCB has supported a wide range of leftist economic policies. You lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.

mankai on September 25, 2013 at 8:49 AM

Glad to see that they are putting Gordon Gee’s money to good use.

blammm on September 25, 2013 at 8:50 AM

Our current government only recognizes the Muslim religion…

albill on September 25, 2013 at 8:51 AM

Little Sisters of the Poor file lawsuit to stop HHS from forcing them to fund contraception coverage

Good!

ToddPA on September 25, 2013 at 8:52 AM

That’s because according to Progressives and liberal Repubs; the first amendment only applies if you are a “church.” Religious individuals need not apply as they can only exercise their freedom in a church.

melle1228 on September 25, 2013 at 8:53 AM

WASHINGTON—The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development urged the U.S. House of Representatives not to accept a proposed $40 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, called the program “one of the most effective and important federal programs to combat hunger in the nation” in his September 11 letter.

We love big government, except when we don’t!

They need to understand the connection between their support of the welfare state and the empowerment of the state over issue of religious liberty.

mankai on September 25, 2013 at 8:54 AM

Sorry Sisters, you’re going to hell.

-Charlie Rangel

Ted Torgerson on September 25, 2013 at 9:00 AM

WASHINGTON—Catholic dioceses across the country will hold events about the need for immigration reform beginning September 8. The events are meant to highlight the urgency of the issue and to show Congress the broad support in the Catholic community for immigration reform with a path to citizenship.

These things are all connected. If you empower the Left and the Democrats, they will take away your religious rights.

Uncritical sycophants on the right like K-Lo (National Review) need to wake up and start opposing the Vatican and the USCCB on all these issues… but I’m not holding my breath.

You support essentially open borders, the “Living Wage”, expansion of the welfare state, “social justice” and the like, you will lose your liberties. Wake up.

mankai on September 25, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Alternative headline:

Little Sisters of the Poor declare war against women.

Happy Nomad on September 25, 2013 at 9:02 AM

The Exploding Little Sisters of the Poor, a muslim organization, was granted immunity; doesn’t seem fair to me.

Bishop on September 25, 2013 at 9:04 AM

Little Racists of the Poor.

/

aquaviva on September 25, 2013 at 9:05 AM

Let’s not forget that the Catholic Bishops supported Obamacare.

When will they learn that they Left sells them poisoned goods to steal our souls?

njcommuter on September 25, 2013 at 9:06 AM

Hobby Lobby had a tougher argument as a commercial operation for a religious exemption

It shouldn’t matter that Hobby Lobby is a commercial operation. The people running that commercial operation still have constitutional rights. The federal government, in forcing them to provide contraceptives and abortion pills to their employees in contravention of their religious beliefs, is clearly violating those rights.

“These women just want to take care of the elderly poor without being forced to violate the faith that animates their work.

And Hobby Lobby’s owners just want to be able to operate their business of selling hobby supplies without being forced to make a choice between doing things that violate their religious faith, or shutting down the business that provides them with their living.

AZCoyote on September 25, 2013 at 9:07 AM

That’s a key for the Little Sisters, as Hobby Lobby had a tougher argument as a commercial operation for a religious exemption, and the precedent should work in their favor.

You’re right, but it shouldn’t be a tougher argument. Who the phuck does the government think it is to demand that individual business owners violate their consciences?

The federal government is out of control.

BuckeyeSam on September 25, 2013 at 9:08 AM

They need to understand the connection between their support of the welfare state and the empowerment of the state over issue of religious liberty.

mankai on September 25, 2013 at 8:54 AM

Yep. Jesus mentioned Caesar, but not in any context where the people should expect Caesar to care for them. Caring for the poor is our responsibility as Christians. Expecting your politicians to do it for you is an abdication of that responsibility.

Kafir on September 25, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Proof #8,436,092 that the GOP is dead.

faraway on September 25, 2013 at 9:11 AM

These nuns are quite obviously racist.

Look at those white habits.

2lbsTest on September 25, 2013 at 9:12 AM

Becket senior counsel Mark Rienzl put it well to the Washington Examiner:

“These women just want to take care of the elderly poor without being forced to violate the faith that animates their work. The money they collect should be used to care for the poor like it always has — and not to pay the IRS,” he said.

Any law that requires a lawsuit to get to that common-sense conclusion should be thrown out, as well as the politicians that passed it.

I really have nothing to add to this. I’m just quoting for emphasis.

Chris of Rights on September 25, 2013 at 9:18 AM

We love big government, except when we don’t! They need to understand the connection between their support of the welfare state and the empowerment of the state over issue of religious liberty. mankai on September 25, 2013 at 8:54 AM

Had the RCC been in perfect lockstep since its inception with Frederick Bastiat regarding the proper function of govt, 0b00ba would be doing the same thing, and this order would be filing the same suit.

Akzed on September 25, 2013 at 9:21 AM

Any law that requires a lawsuit to get to that common-sense conclusion should be thrown out of a window, as well as the politicians that passed it.

FIFY. To give a little more oomph to the idea.

GWB on September 25, 2013 at 9:24 AM

It’s funny that a lot of the original colonists came here from England to escape religious persecution and obtain religious freedom.

It’s almost like history repeating itself. Perhaps it will continue to repeat itself.

Monkeytoe on September 25, 2013 at 9:26 AM

In the ObamiNation, everybody must subsidize the Flukes and bloated bureaucracy, but mostly bloated bureaucracy as the Fluke subsidy is merely a lesser rate of massive increase versus the rest of the population (especially single men).

Steve Eggleston on September 25, 2013 at 9:26 AM

Any law that requires a lawsuit to get to that common-sense conclusion should be thrown out of a 110th-story window, as well as the politicians that passed it.

FIFY. To give a little more oomph to the idea.

GWB on September 25, 2013 at 9:24 AM

ReWrite™ engaged to ensure terminal velocity.

Steve Eggleston on September 25, 2013 at 9:27 AM

These nuns are quite obviously racist.

Look at those white habits.

2lbsTest on September 25, 2013 at 9:12 AM

Don’t all racists have white habits?

Happy Nomad on September 25, 2013 at 9:32 AM

ReWrite™ engaged to ensure terminal velocity.

Steve Eggleston on September 25, 2013 at 9:27 AM

Was using the number of floors that were in the WTC intentional?

Happy Nomad on September 25, 2013 at 9:35 AM

As John Roerts taught us, the Government’s right to tax is limitless.

Sorry, Sisters, I hope you enjoyed your calling while you could.

Deafdog on September 25, 2013 at 9:41 AM

The bigger point here is that all mandates, every single one, imposed by Obamacare, is at some point irrelevant and contradictory to the needs of some group of people. They all should be eliminated.

thuja on September 25, 2013 at 9:45 AM

That’s because according to Progressives and liberal Repubs; the first amendment only applies if you are a “church.” Religious individuals need not apply as they can only exercise their freedom in a church.

melle1228 on September 25, 2013 at 8:53 AM

Well, really! It’s not like giving to the poor has anything to do with religion!!

(Yes, they actually believe that.)

There Goes the Neighborhood on September 25, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Akzed on September 25, 2013 at 9:21 AM

Had the RCC not been a huge supporter of the Progressive agenda and the Democratic Party in general since the 30s, the likes of Obama never would have had the chance.

Evangelicals voted 80/20 for Romney; RC voted 51/48 for Obama.

mankai on September 25, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Screw them Catholics.

However, holy cow, if the “relgion of peace” people had to do something against their faith we’d have all kinds of people blowing themselves up to protest the infidels.

acyl72 on September 25, 2013 at 9:58 AM

In macro, I’m totally against the Catholic Church’s stance on Socialism but, in micro, this particular Order should not be penalized for the work they do.

OldEnglish on September 25, 2013 at 10:00 AM

mankai on September 25, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Then by your logic, no Democrat administration would do anything to alienate them.

Most people in this country are clueless, not just the RCC.

Once people start to wake up, it would make more sense to welcome them to breakfast than to castigate them for having slept.

Akzed on September 25, 2013 at 10:05 AM

That’s because according to Progressives and liberal Repubs; the first amendment only applies if you are a “church.” Religious individuals need not apply as they can only exercise their freedom in a church.

melle1228 on September 25, 2013 at 8:53 AM

That’s because liberals and progressives don’t understand the meaning of the word church (which isn’t surprising). The church is not a building, but the collective body of those that profess their faith in and follow Jesus Christ. Every Christian is part of “the church”.

dominigan on September 25, 2013 at 10:10 AM

“Any law that requires a lawsuit to get to that common-sense conclusion should be thrown out, as well as the politicians that passed it.”

AMEN!

WannabeAnglican on September 25, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Any law that requires a lawsuit to get to that common-sense conclusion should be thrown out, as well as the politicians that passed it.

I would prefer that they first have the 1st Amendment BRANDED on their foreheads.

GarandFan on September 25, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Akzed on September 25, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Like every other entity that feels like it has consolidared power, the Dems don’t mind turning on those that brought them to power.

And remember, RCs supported O in 2012, two years after ACA passed and after the Fluke hearings. The Dems have calculated that RCs (a) are with them on a majority of social and economic issues and (b) have a general visceral hatred and mistrust of Republicans.

This is true in my own family. Pro-Life, not happy with all of ACA, but convinced that healthcare is a “right” and that the Republicans would starve old people and lynch blacks if given the chance. The RCs in my family supported O, the ex-RCs supported Mittens… and tried to appeal to the RCs on the Life and Religious Liberty issues.

In heavily RC areas of the country (Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, Chicago, LA, SF) RCs have regularly supported pro-abort Progressive statists. They gave us Teddy, Pelosi, Ferraro, Biden, Kerry and other big name Leftist RCs.

mankai on September 25, 2013 at 10:32 AM

What is needed from Rome is a long list of excommunications aimed at our “Catholic” politicians. It is time those wolves masquerading as sheep be sent packing to feast on their own.

Don L on September 25, 2013 at 11:02 AM

In macro, I’m totally against the Catholic Church’s stance on Socialism but, in micro, this particular Order should not be penalized for the work they do.

OldEnglish on September 25, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Once again. The Catholic Church is not the United States Catholic Council of Bishops–an entity that has no hierarchal authority (Cardinal Ratzinger–Pope Benedict XVII) and Pope John Paul II had written an encyclical calling out the “welfare state” as an evil.

Do your research and never assume the faith to be just what any individual bishop, priest or God hater says it is.

You might read the Catholic Catechism to learn that the laity is the moral determinant of immigration issues, and the Catholic principle of Subsidiarity which(including bishops) requires that choices be made at the lowest possible level of society.

That sounds like a very conservative set of beliefs to me–hardly that espoused by many wayward selective justice and peace clergy or those in the USCCB which have strayed in the past, including funding ACORN with millions donated to the poor and helping Obama-the worst pro-abortion president in history to get elected.

Don L on September 25, 2013 at 11:14 AM

mankai on September 25, 2013 at 10:32 AM

All this is true. So? When Italy surrendered to the Allies, we didn’t besiege and starve them and say “serves ya right.”

There are few more powerful determinations we can make than whose ox was gored.

Akzed on September 25, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Let’s not forget that the Catholic Bishops supported Obamacare.

When will they learn that they Left sells them poisoned goods to steal our souls?

njcommuter on September 25, 2013 at 9:06 AM

The USCCB adamantly opposed Obamacare because of its contraception/abortifacient requirements. But don’t let facts get in your way.

Trafalgar on September 25, 2013 at 12:39 PM

Akzed on September 25, 2013 at 11:18 AM

I guess the greater point would be that I doubt that they will learn. The majority will continue to vote for the people who will continue to erode their rights.

mankai on September 25, 2013 at 12:42 PM

Everybody sing!

ExpressoBold on September 25, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Trafalgar on September 25, 2013 at 12:39 PM

OK, they support the expansion of food stamps, “immigration reform”, an increase in the minumum wage (JPII supported the “Living Wage”) and many elements of the Welfare State.

Once again. The Catholic Church is not the United States Catholic Council of Bishops–an entity that has no hierarchal authority…

Don L on September 25, 2013 at 11:14 AM

You might want to consult the Post-Conciliar Documents of Vatican II which teach that the faithful “must submit will and intellect” to both Pope and Bishop on all matters of faith and morals. When they call “health care” or “food stamps” or “immigration reform” moral issues, the faithful are called to bow their minds to the “princes and shepherds of the Church.”

The USCCB adamantly opposed Obamacare because of its contraception/abortifacient requirements. But don’t let facts get in your way.

Trafalgar on September 25, 2013 at 12:39 PM

Only because of the abortion element. They fully supported the takeover of the health care system. Their other complain was that it didn’t cover illegals.

With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), our country took an important step toward ensuring access to health coverage for all Americans. However, as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has explained in past letters and analyses, the final Act approved last March was seriously flawed in its treatment of abortion, conscience rights, and fairness to immigrants (see http://www.usccb.org/healthcare). Efforts to ensure that our health care system truly serves the life, health and conscience of all will be a legislative goal of the Catholic bishops in the months to come. [Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo]

USCCB POSITION
For decades, the bishops have consistently insisted that access to decent health care is a basic safeguard of human life and
an affirmation of human dignity from conception until natural death. They have advocated that health care reform
legislation should 1) ensure access to quality, affordable, life giving health care for all; 2) retain longstanding
requirements that federal funds not be used for elective abortions or plans that include them, and effectively protects
conscience rights; and 3) protect the access to health care that immigrants currently have and remove current barriers to
access.

In November 2009, the USCCB wrote in a letter to the U.S. Senate, “The bishops support the expansion of Medicaid
eligibility
for people living at 133 percent or lower of the federal poverty level. The bill does not burden states with
excessive Medicaid matching rates. The affordability credits will help lower-income families purchase insurance coverage
through the Health Insurance Exchange.”

BACKGROUND
Catholic teaching supports adequate and affordable health care for all, because health care is a basic human rightCoverage should be truly universal and should not be denied to those in need because of their condition, age, where they come from or when they arrive here. Providing affordable and accessible health care that clearly reflects these fundamental principles is a public good and moral imperative.

Pretending the RCC is somehow not on the Left on health care, immigration and the expansion of the Welfare State is disingenuous.

mankai on September 25, 2013 at 1:02 PM

The First Amendment was established to prohibit state meddling in religion. Yet the Catholic Church has voluntarily allowed government into its activities by seeking money and the use of political influence. It is time for the Church to make a sharp split with government. Let someone else compete for government money and the compromises and curses that come with it.

Mason on September 25, 2013 at 1:05 PM

mankai on September 25, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Regardless of the reason the USCCB opposed Obamacare, a false statement was made that they supported it. I simply refuted that falsehood and you agree that I am correct. Find anywhere in my post where I claimed the RCC is somehow not on the Left on health care, immigration and the expansion of the Welfare State and then you can lecture me.

Trafalgar on September 25, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Trafalgar on September 25, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Fair enough.

mankai on September 25, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Was using the number of floors that were in the WTC intentional?

Happy Nomad on September 25, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Could be ;-)

Steve Eggleston on September 25, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Geed – we need a few more Catholic institutions to stand up for what’s right. If only we could get the photos of these older nuns on the front page of NYT, Wapo, etc.

MN J on September 25, 2013 at 3:24 PM

The First Amendment was established to prohibit state meddling in religion. Yet the Catholic Church has voluntarily allowed government into its activities by seeking money and the use of political influence. It is time for the Church to make a sharp split with government. Let someone else compete for government money and the compromises and curses that come with it.

Mason on September 25, 2013 at 1:05 PM

You mean like providing Adoption services for many years, then the laws changing to require them to go against their religious convictions, so they stopped providing Adoption services?

How about the government stop encroaching on the Church’s activities?

cptacek on September 25, 2013 at 3:42 PM

The First Amendment was established to prohibit state meddling in religion. Yet the Catholic Church has voluntarily allowed government into its activities by seeking money and the use of political influence. It is time for the Church to make a sharp split with government. Let someone else compete for government money and the compromises and curses that come with it.
Mason on September 25, 2013 at 1:05 PM

The First Amendment should not be conditional. If one accepts welfare, as a significant portion of Americans do these days, does that mean they forfeit the right to free speech, etc.? No. Of course, some would argue it does, and should, but when accepting aid from or working with the government means your rights are game, there’s a serious problem. If the government adhered to Constitutional principles, this wouldn’t be an issue. You should not have to choose between your rights and helping those in need in conjunction with the government (and often for less cost and more efficiently than government).

That being said, it’s a fine little game they’ve got going here: serve diverse populations and you can’t adhere to your faith. However, of the LSP were to serve only Catholics (and thus be a purely religious organization), the screams of “Discrimination!” would echo from DC to LA and politicians would find LSP and similar groups no longer serve the public interest and also forfeit their rights.

englishqueen01 on September 25, 2013 at 5:37 PM