Lawyers for a group of Catholic nuns suing the Obama administration over the birth control mandate in ObamaCare are touting a Supreme Court decision that ruled closely held private companies cannot be compelled to provide contraception if their owners object on religious grounds.
Mark Rienzi, a lawyer for the Becket Fund who represents Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor in a separate case, said the ruling makes it clear that organizations with legitimate religious concerns cannot be forced to provide workers with contraception.
“The problem with the Little Sisters case and with all the non-profit cases is that the government is trying to force those people to be involved in the process,” he said. “The government could work around them, but it’s chosen not to.”
Right before the healthcare exchanges opened last year, the Becket Fund sued the Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of the Little Sisters, arguing that the contraception mandate violated the group’s religious freedom under the First Amendment.
On New Year's Eve, Justice Sonya Sotomayor approved an injunction that exempts the Little Sisters from providing contraception coverage until the case, now before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, is resolved.
The Becket Fund says the Obama’s administration legal argument against the nuns no longer holds.
“In my ideal world, this makes the administration say ‘Enough is enough, we don’t need to keep bullying people into violating their religion,’ ” said Rienzi. “If the government wants to accomplish [contraception coverage], it ought to accomplish it themselves and not drag the Little Sisters of the Poor and [Hobby Lobby] into it.”
If the Health Department continues to fight the Little Sisters case, it will likely come up in the next Supreme Court session, which starts in October.