Now 9th Circuit decides what they should believe, and how deep their beliefs should be
Oct 24, 2019
It was Barack Obama’s pro-abortion Washington insiders who took the broad outline created by Obamacare and wrote the rules that would require an organization of faithful Catholic nuns to fund abortion.
Which is just not going to happen.
And the Supreme Court has turned that idea down twice already, but the war against the Christian nuns still rages on inside the nation’s courtrooms.
The latest was this week’s decision at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where judges once again put themselves in the position of deciding what the nuns should believe, do believe, and how strongly they believe it.
The background is well-known: In 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services under Obama’s administration created a federal demand that employers provide contraceptives, including the week-after pill, free-of-cost in their health insurance plans.
There were no exemptions for religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor, who help the poorest of the poor around the world who are at the end of their lives with nowhere else to go.
“These nuns have dedicated their lives to their faith and to serving the poor. Yet, these women were sued and told that they must violate their conscience by providing contraception through their insurance,” explained a report by the Family Research Council.
In 2016, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected lower court decisions against the group, concluding the government should be allowed to “arrive at an approach going forward that accommodates the petitioners’ religious beliefs.”
In 2017, President Trump released an executive order directing federal agencies to address the faith objections to Obama’s plan. Shortly after followed a new federal rule.
But now state officials, in Pennsylvania and California, taking over for the Obama agenda, demanded at a state level that the nuns pay up for abortions.
Rulings from the 9th Circuit, and earlier the 3rd Circuit, have claimed that the federal government doesn’t have the authority to exempt the nuns from state demands.
The FRC, in a commentary, explained, “The Supreme Court needs to settle the debate and rule that the government cannot require people and groups to violate their conscience by providing contraceptive services. The court should uphold the HHS rule, which protects the inherent human right of religious liberty. This liberty promotes the common good and allows society to flourish. The Little Sisters of the Poor certainly promote the common good as they assist the poorest in society. Violating their conscience ought not to be a precondition for the Little Sisters assisting those most in need.”
The ruling from the 3rd Circuit already has been appealed to the Supreme Court, according to officials for Becket, which is representing them.
“Over the past three years the Supreme Court has twice protected the Catholic nuns, but the states have dragged them back to court,” Becket said. “In Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Trump, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro threatened the Little Sisters’ ministry by challenging their religious exemption, forcing the Little Sisters to continue to defend themselves in court.”
The appeal to the high court explains: “Since late 2013, this court has repeatedly been presented with questions concerning the relationship between the federal contraceptive mandate and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the adequacy of ever-evolving government treatment of religious objectors. In a series of emergency orders, the court protected religious non-profits from facing large fines for noncompliance, but repeatedly refrained from expressing any definitive view on the merits of their RFRA claims.
“In its 2014 Hobby Lobby decision, the court discussed the regulatory mechanism available to religious non-profits as one of the several less restrictive alternatives to the mandate’s treatment of religious for-profits. The court understood that there were ongoing challenges to the sufficiency of that mechanism under RFRA, and it emphasized that it was not deciding whether it was sufficient for those who object to it. Nonetheless, by pointing to it as a potential less restrictive alternative, the court seemed to assume that the executive branch had ample power to promulgate some sort of religious accommodation.
“In the fall of 2015, as scores of cases involving religious non-profits worked their way through the courts, the court granted certiorari to decide the RFRA question. But there too the court demurred: the unanimous eight-justice per curiam decision in Zubik noted the ‘substantial clarification and refinement’ of the parties’ positions and remanded for the parties to explore a resolution. Once again, the court seemed to assume ample authority on the part of the executive to accommodate religious exercise broadly enough to bring the litigation to an end.
“Three years later,” the brief says, “it is clear that the litigation will not end unless and until this court provides definitive guidance on the RFRA questions.”
The fight all stems from Obamacare, which requires companies to provide “preventive care” but does not define it. That was left to the bureaucrats in the Health Resources and Service Administration, who jumped at the opportunity to support the abortion industry by requiring “care” services.
At one point there were about 100 lawsuits against the mandate from religious groups and organizations who objected to being forced to violate their beliefs.
In fact, the government, both federal and the states of Pennsylvania and California, admitted women could have access to the contraceptives without the nuns’ participation.
Nevertheless, the states sued to demand submission to the pro-abortion agenda.
“This is a nonsensical political battle that has dragged on six years too long. These states have not been able to identify a single person who would lose contraceptive coverage under the new HHS rule, but they won’t rest until Catholic nuns are forced to pay for contraceptives,” said Mark Rienzi, president of Becket. “It is time for the Supreme Court to finally put this issue to rest.”