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Little Sisters Face the Supreme Court

Obama says these nuns must pay for contraception. They disagree.

Indicative of just how intent the Obama administration is on targeting religious liberty and forcing compliance with state-approved doctrine, the Supreme Court Wednesday heard oral arguments in seven consolidated cases challenging ObamaCare’s contraception mandate. The most high-profile of these cases is Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell.

At issue is whether organizations like this humble order of Catholic nuns — whose mission is “to offer the neediest elderly of every race and religion a home where they will be welcomed as Christ, cared for as family and accompanied with dignity until God calls them to himself” — must comply with ObamaCare’s mandate that employer health plans cover contraceptives. Yes, Barack Obama says nuns who live a life of celibacy must have contraception coverage. The penalty if they don’t? For Little Sisters, a shocking $70 million in fines per year — or about one-third of their entire operating budget.

Besides celibacy, as Catholics the Little Sisters believe any form of contraception is a moral evil that violates both Scripture and nature — a belief held by some Protestants as well. Maybe they’re just “bitterly clinging” to their beliefs. The leftists who concocted ObamaCare, however, maintain that birth control paid for by someone else — even abortifacients like Plan B — is an inviolable “right,” religious beliefs be damned. “Liberals” want government out of the bedroom except when they don’t. They want sex without consequences, and it’s government’s job to ensure the entirely natural consequence of sex (conception) is either avoided or “easily” disposed of. Remember Georgetown student Sandra Fluke’s struggles to fund the $3,000 contraceptive tab of her law-school sex habit?

Coed sexual urges aside, Obama insists his administration is accommodating Little Sisters and similar organizations by allowing them to sign a form opting out of the contraception mandate. The government would then direct the insurance company to pay for the contraceptive coverage. Not only will the insurance company simply raise premiums for Little Sisters to pay for this additional coverage, but this “compromise” still requires that Little Sisters authorize the insurance coverage, making them party to an act they believe is morally reprehensible.

During oral argument, Justice Anthony Kennedy suggested the government is “hijacking” insurance plans to provide contraceptive coverage instead of finding another way to provide it without involving religious organizations that object.

Meanwhile, Justice Elena Kagan said the groups “were objecting to objecting.” And Justice Sonia Sotomayor complained that if everyone could claim exemptions from laws because they feel those laws violate their beliefs, “how will we ever have a government that functions?” Of course, this misses the point that in a truly free society — especially one in which the Founders crafted the First Amendment — religious liberty takes precedence over government programs. The Pilgrims didn’t depart Holland for the New World just for “a government that functions,” but for religious liberty.

Additionally, in cases like this in which government provides a supposed “way out,” it’s particularly critical to understand that religious liberty that depends upon government waivers is not freedom at all but tolerance. And tolerance given can easily and quickly become tolerance taken away.

Unfortunately, Little Sisters lost a staunch ally of true religious liberty with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. With the bench now numbering eight, there is a very real likelihood of a 4-4 split. Unless the Court orders the case re-argued, such a ruling would leave in place the lower courts’ rulings. Most lower courts have ruled in favor of the mandate — save the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. This means employers would be impacted differently depending on where they and their employees are located.

Of course, if the ObamaCare exchanges were as stunningly successful as the administration claims, women could easily find affordable coverage that includes contraception apart from employer plans. In other words, as attorney and U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Member Peter Kirsanow points out, “[T]his is a completely unnecessary fight [the administration has] picked with the Little Sisters.”

Unnecessary for health care, perhaps, but, clearly necessary when targeting religious liberty is the priority. ObamaCare was never about health care. It’s always been about control.

As if to hammer that point home, while the justices were hearing these arguments, Obama was glad-handing with the Cuban dictator who jails Christians on a regular basis.

Americans were once fed the lie, “If you like your plan, you can keep it.” Beware when Obama says the same of your faith.

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