Gerald Russello over at the National Catholic Register with insights into the Obama administration's continued efforts to bully the Little Sisters of the Poor:
Just sign on the dotted line, Sister; it’s just a piece of paper. Don’t worry about your faith.
That’s the position the government has put the Little Sisters of the Poor in, because it is enforcing the HHS contraceptive mandate against an order of nuns that provides free health care for the aged. The government has threatened the order with substantial fines if they don’t comply, which could cripple their ability to continue to help the poor.
In a moment of clarity, Associate Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor stayed the imposition of the mandate against the religious sisters Dec. 31, giving the U.S. Justice Department a deadline of 10am Jan. 3 to respond. At deadline, the Justice Department filed its brief as to why Sotomayor’s stay should be lifted.
The pettiness of the government here should not go unnoticed. The government could have let the stay continue and continued to argue its position before the lower court. Instead, it wants the court to end the stay and force the penalties to be imposed on the women religious.
More U.S. citizens should realize what the government is doing here in the name of “health care”: In this instance, as with so many of its efforts against Catholic institutions, the government is actually potentially reducing the number of people able to be helped.
Essentially, the government says in its brief that this case is much ado about nothing, and certainly not about religious liberty. The sisters have a way out, says the government: The order can just sign a certification that establishes the order has religious objections, and all will be well.
But there is a catch: The certification also must, by law, designate someone else (usually the plan administrator or other entity) to provide the offending health coverage. As the Little Sisters of the Poor’s lawyers at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty point out, this is a false exit. For the sisters, directing someone else to do something that violates their faith is no different than asking the nuns to do it themselves.
As one commentator put it, the government’s position essentially requires the nuns to pass out vouchers for free contraceptives rather than pay for the drugs themselves. This is a legal distinction without a moral difference, and the order is right to challenge the government on it.
Mr. Russello has more. Finish with him. Pass this on.
This is most grievous to the principles of religious liberty.
The mandate must die.