Little Sisters

“The Congress of the United States, which has no constitutional authority regarding health insurance to begin with, did not include the ‘contraceptive mandate’ in the Affordable Care Act.  That was promulgated, pursuant to the act, by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.”  Jack Kenny

Resisting Caesar

Jack Kenny, The New American, February 3, 2014, p. 44

SEBELIUS-OBAMA-PELOS-WH PETE SOUZA-CROP…For now, at least, no one faces imprisonment for refusing to participate in an arrangement whereby contracep­tives, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization will be covered by “health” insurance, provided free of charge to his or her em­ployees as a condition of their employment. But employers who refuse to cooperate, be they evangelical Christians running a family-owned corporation, as in the case of Hobby Lobby, or members of a religious organization running a non-profit chari­table organization, may be put out of business with fines of $100 a day per employee. For men and women conscientiously op­posed to the “contraceptive mandate” under the Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”), the battle is nothing less than a life-or-death struggle for the businesses they have built or the charitable missions they serve.

It might have seemed unimaginable 50, 30, even 20 years ago that the federal government of the United States of America would attempt to force the Little Sisters of the Poor and Aged to comply with such a mandate. The Little Sisters, a charitable organization run by a Roman Catholic religious order, sought injunctive relief last year from the mandate, which took effect on January 1. On New Year’s Eve, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted a temporary injunction, halting enforcement until’the issue is further decided by the justice herself or, more likely, the full court. Lawyers from the U.S. Department of Justice have petitioned for a lifting of the injunction, arguing that the Little Sisters have an out in the.cornpromise offered by the Obama administration, whereby they need not provide for the contraceptive services, but may instead sign a form authorizing their third-party insurer to provide it without charge. And since the benefits for the Little Sis­ters’ employees are provided by contract with the Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust, which does not include contraceptive services in its coverage, the religious objection raised by the sisters is moot, the DOJ lawyers claim. Mark Rienzi, a lawyer with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, is representing the Sisters and has accused the federal government of “trying to bully nuns into violating their religious beliefs.” He argues that in its petition against the injunction.

The government now asks the Supreme Court to believe that the very thing it is forcing the nuns to do — signing the permission slip — is a meaningless act. But why on earth would the government be fighting the Little Sisters all the way to the Supreme Court if it did not think its own form had any effect? The government’s brief offers no explana­tion for its surprising insistence on making the Little Sisters sign a form the government now says is meaningless.

But of course, it is not meaningless, as both the Little Sisters and the government apparently understand. The Congress of the United States, which has no constitutional authority re­garding health insurance to begin with, did not include the “contraceptive mandate” in the Affordable Care Act. That was promulgated, pursuant to the act, by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The form the govern­ment demands the Sisters sign implies the government has the power to compel compliance, but will, in some cases, refrain from doing so out of its own benevolent good will. It is an implicit denial that the rights at issue in this controversy, the rights of conscience and religious liberty, are rights of men and women “endowed by their Creator,” as our Declaration of Independence proclaims, and enshrined in “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” It assumes a power of govern­ment to create a right of some to compel others to provide contraceptive services for them, religious or moral objections notwithstanding.

The national motto of the United States, still printed on our currency, is “In God We Trust.” If the zealots promoting Obama-Care and its contraceptive mandate have their way, candor might require it be changed to “We have no king but Caesar.”

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