Little Sisters of the Poor's court challenge to Obamacare's contraception mandate
One of the most vigorous legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, is taking place right here. Little Sisters of the Poor, an organization based in Denver and Baltimore, is challenging an Obamacare mandate concerning contraception, and a not-so-brief brief filed yesterday in the United States District Court for Colorado outlines how they feel rules put in place to distance religious organizations from such matters still connect them to acts they regard as sins. The argument, documents, a video and more below.
Photos and more below.
Representing the Little Sisters is The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which describes itself as "a non-profit, public-interest legal and educational institute with a mission to protect the free expression of all faiths." While the organization has defended religious institutions "from A to Z...Anglicans to Zoroastrians," it is best known for defending Christian groups.
A page devoted to the Little Sisters suit notes that it is the 72nd the fund has filed against the Obamacare mandate, with other plaintiffs including "Belmont Abbey College, Colorado Christian University, East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University, Ave Maria University, Wheaton College and Hobby Lobby."
Little Sisters of the Poor photos courtesy of The Becket Fund.
Still, the Little Sisters' offering appears to be among those getting the most traction. On December 31, a few months after the original complaint was filed (we've also shared it here), Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a temporary restraining order exempting the organization from following the mandate until the legal challenge runs its course. If Sotomayor hadn't acted, the mandate would have kicked in the next day.
The aforementioned brief, which runs 63 pages, describes the Little Sisters as "Catholic nuns who devote their lives to caring for the elderly poor. They provide care for the elderly of every race and religion, love and respect them as if each elderly person were Jesus Christ himself, and treat them with dignity and compassion until they die. The Little Sisters perform this ministry in homes throughout the world, including almost thirty in the United States. Although they have operated their homes in this country for over a century in the highly regulated sector of elder care, federal law has never before put them to the impossible choice of either violating their faith or violating the law."
The issue, according to the document, is EBSA Form 700, which the federal government requires religious institutions to fill out in order for other organizations to handle contraceptive coverage to which they might object. "The government's argument for requiring this specific act hinges on the fact that the Little Sisters have associated with religious benefits providers to provide employee benefits consistent with their shared Catholic faith," the suit maintains, adding, "The government argues that...filling out EBSA Form 700 is a meaningless exercise, to which the Little Sisters should have no objection."
Continue for more about the latest filing in the Little Sisters of the Poor's Obamacare challenge, including documents and a video.