It’s a case in which the U.S. government has been accused of claiming the authority to “determine what is in fact a sin.”
The critics, meanwhile, have accused the U.S. Supreme Court of tilting the playing field in advance.
But the Little Sisters of the Poor case against the Obamacare law is moving toward a resolution with the U.S. Supreme Court announcing arguments have been scheduled for March 23.
The nuns who run elder care centers worldwide are contesting the Obamacare requirement that their employee insurance plans cover abortion pills.
The Becket Fund, which is working on behalf of the nuns, said the high court will decide whether the Little Sisters of the Poor and other faith-based ministries can be forced to change their health-care plans “to offer drugs that violate their religious beliefs when those same drugs could be made available through healthcare exchanges.”
“After promising that the Little Sisters’ religious beliefs would be protected, the government created a new regulation requiring the Little Sisters change their healthcare plan to offer drugs that violate Catholic teaching,” the group explained. “One third of U.S. workers are employed by secular companies (e.g., Exxon and Visa) that the government has exempted from having to provide these same drugs in their plans because those employers did not try to update their health plans under ACA and are ‘grandfathered.’”
In the lower courts, the Little Sisters have argued that the requirement to participate in the government’s plan to distribute contraceptives violates their exercise of religious freedom. While an earlier Supreme Court opinion protected some for-profit companies from the law’s requirement, nonprofit organizations were left at risk.
The accusation that the government had become the arbiter of religious beliefs came in a friend-of-the court brief filed by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of dozens of client.
“If this appeal is lost, the government becomes the head of every religious denomination in the country by its assumed authority to determine what is in fact a sin,” said Thomas More’s president, Richard Thompson.