The Little Sisters of the Poor today (Friday) received an injunction from the Supreme Court protecting them from the controversial HHS mandate while their case is before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. The injunction means that the Little Sisters will not be forced to sign and deliver the controversial government forms authorizing and instructing their benefits administrator to provide contraceptives, sterilization, and drugs and devices that may cause early abortions. The Court’s order also provides protection to more than 400 other Catholic organizations that receive health benefits through the same Catholic benefits provider, Christian Brothers.
“We are delighted that the
Supreme Court has issued this order protecting the Little Sisters,” said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel for the Becket Fund. “The
government has lots of ways to deliver contraceptives to people–it doesn’t need
to force nuns to participate.”
To receive protection, the
Supreme Court said that the Little Sisters and other organizations that receive
benefits through Christian Brothers must simply inform HHS of their religious
identity and objections. The Court said that the Little Sisters did not have to
sign or deliver the controversial government forms that authorize and direct
their benefits administrator to provide the objectionable drugs and devices.
The order was issued by the
entire Supreme Court. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is the Justice assigned for
emergency applications from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, had previously
issued a temporary injunction to allow
the court time to consider the Little Sisters’ emergency
appeal, filed on New Years’ Eve.
Prior to the order,
injunctions had been awarded in 18 of the 19
similar cases in which relief had been requested.
“Virtually every other party
who asked for protection from the mandate has been given it,” said Rienzi. “It made no sense for the Little
Sisters to be singled out for fines and punishment before they could even
finish their suit.”
The Little Sisters are joined
in the lawsuit by religious health benefit providers, Christian Brothers
Services, Christian Brothers Employee Benefits Trust. The lawsuit is a
class action on behalf of all the non-exempt organizations that receive
benefits through Christian Brothers. The Plaintiffs are also represented by
Locke Lord, a national law firm, and by Kevin Walsh, a law professor at the
University of Richmond.
To date, there are currently 91 lawsuits challenging the unconstitutional HHS