Obama Administration Pressuring Justice Sotomayor to Allow Contraception Mandate

Sonia Sotomayor

On Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued an order preventing the government from enforcing the Obamacare contraceptive mandate on the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Sotomayor’s decision to delay the contraceptive portion of the law was joined by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which also issued an emergency stay for Catholic-affiliated groups challenging the contraceptive provision, including the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and Catholic University.

Separately, Lawyer Noel J. Francisco had said in appeals to Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Elena Kagan that the mandate would “expose numerous Catholic organizations to draconian fines unless they abandon their religious convictions and take actions that facilitate access to abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization for their employees and students.”

In December of 2012, I reported that the Little Sisters of the Poor saw the very real threat of having to leave their apostolate in the United States if they could not gain an exemption from the HHS mandates on contraception and abortion coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

This morning, Matt Bowman brought to light the moral dilemma facing the Little Sisters of the Poor, and the reason why they can’t simply sign the required form designating a third party administrator to do, for lack of any other way of putting it, the dirty work for them:

Obamacare says that when an entity is in a self-insured plan, like the Little Sisters are, they must file a certification form. But it’s not like other certification forms that the rule requires.  It does not merely express their religious objections. The form also, specifically and additionally, “designates” their “third party administrator” to go get the abortifacient and birth control payments.  As I explained at Mirror of Justice, in a message posted by Prof. Marc DeGirolami:

The final regulation even points out that this added language is legally operative: the designation words themselves are what cause the TPA’s obligation to go get the coverage. Without the designation telling the TPA to go get that coverage, the TPA wouldn’t have any duty to be involved. … So it’s important to observe that for self-insured religious non-profits, there’s a “certification,” but there’s also a “designation”…. The designation is, by definition, an act of contracting and arranging for the coverage.

The government even conceded, in Cardinal Wuerl’s lawsuit, that “in the self-insured case, technically, the contraceptive coverage is part of the plan.” It’s not separate.

And yet today, the Associated Press is reporting that the Justice Department is now pressuring Justice Sotomayor to dissolve her stay. They are, it appears, using the same arguments:

The Justice Department Friday called on Justice Sonia Sotomayor to dissolve her stay on the contraceptive coverage requirement of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The government says religious nonprofit groups can certify that they don’t want to provide contraceptive coverage. A group of Catholic nuns who run nursing homes sued, saying even signing that form violates their beliefs.

Government lawyers say the nuns’ insurance is a “church plan” that is not required to provide contraception coverage and has decided not to, so they have no legal basis to complain.

This relentless pursuit by the administration to gain acquiescence from religious institutions which morally object to the mandate is nothing short of religious persecution. It would be remarkable that the most progressive administration in US history is also the most intolerant, if history didn’t show us where the progressive path leads those nations that choose to follow it.


Categories:Health Care Religious Liberty

  • Slats

    Wow, so many things going on here.

    1) My understanding is that Sotomayor is legally and personally pro-choice. Why did the Little Sisters have to rely on a pro-choice SCOTUS justice to file the stay? Where were the pro-life cause’s supposed legal allies?

    2) I’ll answer my own question – it’s that it’s not about abortion so much as about religious liberty, the Constitution of the United States, and common sense. Look at the structure of the mandate and the accommodations. Can a good-faith argument be made that the mandate and accommodation as written have any other intent than to force individuals and groups with conscience qualms to play some dynamic role in the acquisition of contraception and abortifacients and thus violate their consciences? Let me answer that for you – it cannot. If one argues such as an intelligent person, he or she knows that the argument is a lie even while attempting to make it.

    3) Because the mandate and accommodation’s intent in existential fact are to force individuals and groups with conscience qualms to dirty their hands with participation in deeds that violate their consciences, it is clear that the motive is to change consciences. When religious conviction plays a role in the precept of conscience that the antagonist is trying to change, that effort is a clear violation of freedom of religion, an attempt to force people to adopt other beliefs. I thought the state wasn’t supposed to have or impose a religion! Silly me.

    4) What really burns me about the efforts of the Obama administration and his Planned Parenthood advisers (and their shills who write for the editorial page of the NY Times) is the depth of their disrespect for pro-life and Catholic belief about these matters. For Catholics and other pro-lifers, these are not matters of “that breaks the esoteric sectarian rules” or some sort of “step-on-the-cracks-and-break-your-mother’s-back” legalism, but rather existential matters of life and death, and the life and death of the souls of the perpetrators and participants. And surely they understand the Catholic “meta-belief” – the belief that we have about our beliefs – that these issues of abortion and contraception are not sectarian matters nor principally matters of religious revelation, but rather basic and fairly-easily-apprehended human issues of good and evil/ill. Pope Francis (and Pope Benedict before him) talks about how these issues have to be presented in the context of the Gospel. It seems clear to me that that has to mean the overall goodwill of Christ and His work of salvation, that He wishes our good and not our ill, rather than a voluntary sectarianizing of these issues which is contrary to the deposit of the faith and which would serve absurdly and purposelessly to take away Catholics’ very ability to plant the seeds of evangelization in society and work for the common good.

    5) My belief has always been that the Church intended (or, at the very least, that the Holy Spirit allowed!) Dignitatis Humanae, Vatican II’s teaching on freedom of conscience, more than anything else as a savvy, broad-umbrella defense of Catholics’ rights to believe and worship in communist and fascist states. Little did we know that that defense would be so needed in the United States in so short a time!

    • Mike

      Justice Sotomayor is the assigned justice for the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is where the Little Sisters’ case originated. It’s pure geography; if they were in Texas they’d have gotten Justice Scalia.

  • http://facebook Dorothy

    It is high time for people who love GOD to stand against this administration!! We are becoming another Germany! I always wondered how the people of Germany let Hitler take over as hedid but now I can see it is happening right here. Wake up America!!

  • http://T40wave@aol.com JKL

    I feel that the Obama Administration is relentlessly pursuing this contraceptive mandate because, if they win and force Catholic organizations to violate their conscience on this issue, than they can force Catholics to pay for abortion coverage and Catholic Hospitals to provide abortions. This mandate is Step One. Abortion is Step Two.
    I am not confidant that Sotomayor will not cave but I will continue to pray that she stands strong against this grave and immoral injustice and religious persecution. God help America.

  • Gary

    The Obama Administration has no principles… none. They are all about power . The Catholic Church is beginning to understand this because it has taken a stand for its beliefs. CHRISTians, regardless of differences of doctrine, need to come along side of the Catholic Church and respond with the might of divine right.

  • Caro

    I agree, we should all be praying for Justice Sonia Sotomayor rosaries and fasting. It must be tough to stand against the current and it is probably the best thing we can do as Catholics

  • Kay

    I would have to accept marterdom—-before I would voluntarily accept theHHS mandate–start building the gas ovens



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