Freedom of Religion

Catholic Nuns vs. Obamacare in First-of-a-Kind Class-Action Lawsuit

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Does this count as a "war on women"?
Credit: neil1877 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

A group of Catholic nuns are leading the charge in a class action lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The religious group believes the HHS is violating its First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

On Tuesday, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty announced a lawsuit it filed on behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor, nuns who provide charitable care to over 13,000 elderly poor people worldwide. They challenge an Obamacare mandate that requires employers to cover contraceptives. The nuns believe that facilitating the use of such products, whether directly or indirectly, violates their vocation to a higher power than the U.S. government. The Becket Fund explains why the case is unique:

The lawsuit is the first of its kind both because it is a class-action suit that will represent hundreds of Catholic non-profit ministries with similar beliefs and because it is the first on behalf of benefits providers who cannot comply with the Mandate.

Media Matters for America contends that the issue has been spun by "right-wing media." The group cites a Slate article that states, "the burden here is insignificant, amounting to a few dollars borne indirectly by the employer to facilitate independent, private decisions made by their female employees." They also note a Kaiser Health News post that points out that the mandate has been modified and its exemptions broadened.

However, Mark Rienzi of the Becket Fund believes that the change was ineffective. "The Sisters should obviously be exempted as 'religious employers,' but the government has refused to expand its definition. These women just want to take care of the elderly poor without being forced to violate the faith that animates their work."

The Sisters, whose operations survive entirely on donations, will be subject to fines if they do not comply with Obamacare's current requirements. David Martosko of the Daily Caller previously predicted that the financial burden could ultimately drive the charitable organization out of the U.S. entirely.

David Catron of the American Spectator argues that such cases are not about "whether a corporation can have religious beliefs," or "even about contraception," but "about religious liberty." He cites the ruling regarding a retail chain, Hobby Lobby, in which the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals stated, "[W]e cannot see why an individual operating for-profit retains Free Exercise protections but an individual who incorporates… does not."

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  1. Hate speech isn’t free speech.

  2. Fuck you, and fuck what *you* want, now pay me…

    – The Obama administration

  3. Couldn’t pick a more flattering photo of nuns, reason? No stock photos of Julie Andrews around? One of them looks dead.

    1. My wife’s cousin is a nun. It’s a damn shame, too. Because this girl is gorgeous. Beautiful face, and a slamming body. God works in mysterious ways…

      1. and a slamming body.

        How do you know?

        1. Because when I met her, she was in high school, not a nun outfit.

          1. Not even a sexy nun outfit?

          2. Darn. I was hoping you’d say she has an outfit like Kate Upton in The Three Stooges.

  4. Those nuns don’t look anything like the nuns you see in movies or in porn.

    1. Uhh, Sister Act? Blues Brothers?

      1. Don’t you say nothing bad about the Penguin! Sure, she’s a mean old bitch, but she raised the Blues.

    2. What about Rule whatever-it-is?

  5. On Tuesday, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty announced a lawsuit it filed on behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor

    Hey, we don’t play them in football.

  6. The thing is, if they confined their ministry to Catholics only, they’d get an exemption under HHS regulations. It’s only because they serve non-Catholics that the restrictions are triggered.

    So if some Aryan Nations church set up a “fund for our brethren in the Church while we wait for everyone else to be destroyed,” then they get an exemption. But if these nuns reach out to care for (say) Presbyterians, Buddhists or Browns Fans,* they’re no longer religious and have to be penalized for acting on their beliefs.

    *sorry.

    1. The Progs hate religion and want it destroyed or turned into some political religion that supports the state. The idea is to make sure they only administer to Catholics and do not spread their ideology.

      These people are pure evil.

      1. And when Catholics who take the teachings of their faith seriously are prohibited by law from serving the poor in any organized way, the progs can then turn around and say, “See, those religious people are hypocrites who don’t anything to help the poor. That’s why the government has to do it all, by taxing ‘the rich’ till they squeak.”

      2. Worse than Catholics? What have liberals done that’s worse than institutionalized child rape?

    2. “… or Browns Fans,* ”

      The nuns are the Little Sisters of the Poor, Browns fans would seem to be their target demographic.

  7. The mask is off. This is the face of Progressivism; threatening a bunch of nuns who care for the poor with fines and jail for not following the party line. Just think how nasty and vicious this is. The progs can’t carve out a single exception for a bunch of nuns. Nope, they have to tow the party lion.

    1. hold on there, Sparky. Should the religious get “exceptions” “carved out” for them on every government mandate?

      1. Yes. Because the government shouldn’t be compelling people to act against their consciences. It is called freedom there Sparky. That means people get to do shit you don’t like.

        1. I think what NK is getting at is that your religious affiliation or lack thereof shouldn’t factor into whether or not you’re granted a permission slip to exercise your basic rights.

          1. Silly me, I had always thought religious freedom was a basic right!

            1. So I can do whatever I want so long as I profess it’s part of my “faith”?

              Is that what you’re saying?

              1. So long as it doesn’t hurt others, yes.

              2. If it is not violating anyone else’s rights, yes, that is what I am saying.

            2. But their right to worship isn’t at issue here. It’s freedom of conscience. What about the conscience of the atheist or the moon worshipper?

              1. I don’t think there’s an obvious bright line difference between worship and conscience. If the atheist and the moon worshipper think being involved in anyway with the purchase of certain goods, then they should not be compelled to such involvement. It is just having a codified rulebook gives you firmer ground to stand on when making such an argument.

        2. John, if we had true freedom of conscience in this country, we would have anarchy. I hope you recognize that.

      2. Funny how enticing government power becomes to some people the moment it involves sticking it to their enemies. Fuck those nuns. Make them pay for the birth control.

        This is why this shit happens.

        1. That isn’t what I said at all. Please don’t mischaracterize. I asked you a question.

          1. A question which implied what John just stated.

            1. No, it didn’t. I have no desire to force the nuns to do something to violate their conscience. So, good job being completely wrong.

      3. Maybe if the nuns opened a bank…

    2. They already used up all the waivers for the unions.

      1. No, they used them up on congressional staffers. Even the unions got told to go suck eggs.

  8. They don’t want the competition of helping the poors. If someone else can effectively care for the poor, the poor don’t need the progs/gubment.

  9. Of course Media Matters is saying that. They’re a partisan spin factory. They also maintain that they’re objective fact-checkers.

    This is all a symptom of the psychosis that is Progressivism. If you believe in scientific government by bureaucrats and experts, then anybody who opposes your agenda is anti-science. And because your opponents are anti-science, and science is the font of all possible knowledge according to the Progressive/Positivist worldview, then anybody who opposes your agenda is anti-facts. As such, we don’t need to seriously debate them, because their real motives must be misanthropy, misogyny, racism, or something along those lines. Or they’re just stupid.

  10. One of the aggrivating things about this whole issue, is that one shouldn’t have to appeal to religious liberty as the reason why this policy isn’t kosher. One shouldn’t be forced to do this regardless one’s reasoning, religious or otherwise.

    1. Only a ignorant backwards person would object to such a great policy.

      1. an ignorant, backwards*

      2. And this is also a great example of why libertarianism is not “socially liberal” Social liberlaism doesn’t give a fuck about “social freedom.” They just care about being able to impose a different set social norms and behavioral contraints than social conservatives do.

        1. +1 liter soda

    2. I don’t disagree with your thinking, but the 1st amendment guarantees of religious freedom are one of the most obvious ways the Obamacare mandates fall afoul of liberty in general. Complaing that it is being attacked on a basis you don’t like is not going to help the cause of liberty.

      1. I’m not arguing that freedom of religion isn’t a valid line of argument. I’m just a little upset that by making this only a religious thing it somehow suggests that it’s otherwise ok.

        1. I am suggesting not cutting off our noses because you want to spite our faces. Eliminating a valid line of argument because you are not entirely comfortable with the implications is foolish.

  11. Chocolate Nixon?

    How about Chocolate Wilson?

    1. How about a Plastic Dodo. The kind of creature that should be extinct, but somehow isn’t.

      We have proof that justice is not hardwired into the universe.

  12. “The group cites a Slate article that states, “the burden here is insignificant, amounting to a few dollars borne indirectly by the employer to facilitate independent, private decisions made by their female employees.” ”

    As an employer, I object to the very notion that the government has any business ordering me to endure any burden, significant or otherwise, to “facilitate” someone else’s private decisions that have nothing at all to do with me.

    The very fact that someone can seriously can seriously articulate that as a “defense” of the contraceptive mandate proves how perverse the outlook of the political class had become.

  13. a Slate article that states, “the burden here is insignificant, amounting to a few dollars borne indirectly by the employer to facilitate independent, private decisions made by their female employees.”

    So I guess Slate wouldn’t care at all if the US government gave say a billion dollars to the NRA right?

    After all – if’s just a few dollars borne indirectly by taxpayers to facilitate independent, private decisions made by law abiding gun owners….

  14. WTF are the nuns AND the Becket Fund missing, other than some brain cells?

    If they’re “forced” to pay for contraceptives and all the other crap they’re opposed to “supporting,” they would, IN FACT, BECAUSE of their beliefs AND their ADHERANCE to their beliefs, NEVER USE any of the materials they oppose.

    A one-time stocking fee would disappear into the noise level or below that for their funding, and they’d NEVER have to replenish their inventory, RIGHT?

    THEY won’t use the sinful chemicals, and they’d NEVER make them available to ANYONE ELSE, so… WTF is the Big Deal in the first place?!

    If they object to that “initial inventory funding,” I’d sure as hell bet they could cover the cost with about five minutes of crowdsourcing or a kickstarter fund.

    Jeez… morons all around!

    1. WTF is the Big Deal in the first place?!

      The “big deal” is that they are being coerced to do something that is anathema to their beliefs you blithering idiot.

      Jeez… morons all around!

      Indeed.

  15. If women employees are seeking contraception, it’s not being forced on anyone. I don’t see why the random ridiculous fairy tales her employers happen to believe in should have any bearing on her access relative to women in other professions.

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