Little Sisters poke big holes in Government’s case

Little Sister of the Poor with a residentSupreme Court brief reveals HHS lawyers’ numerous contradictions

For Immediate Release:  March 14, 2016
Media Contact:  Melinda Skea, media@becketfund.org, 202-349-7224

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Catholic nuns who care for the elderly poor, filed a brief at the Supreme Court explaining glaring contradictions in the government’s healthcare mandate. Next week, the Court will hear arguments about whether the government can force the Little Sisters to provide services like the week-after pill against their religious beliefs when those same services could be easily obtained through the government’s own exchanges.

“The government already exempts 1 in 3 Americans from this mandate, and it has given big government programs and big companies like Exxon and Visa the freedom to decide not to comply with the mandate, even just for reasons of cost or convenience.” said Sr. Loraine Marie Maguire, mother provincial of the Little Sisters of the Poor. “Protecting our ability to care for the elderly poor ought to be at least as important as helping big business save a few dollars.”

“The government must have been hoping the Justices wouldn’t read their whole brief in one sitting,” said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at the Becket Fund and lead counsel for the Little Sisters. “They defend these massive exemptions by saying that the exchanges are great and easy to use. But then they blast the same exchanges as lousy and hard to use for any Little Sisters employee. The brief is going to give the Justices whiplash from trying to keep up with those contradictions.”

“The government has ample ways to distribute these services without us—and their brief says those ways are perfectly fine for the tens of millions of people covered by all the other exemptions it handed out,” explained Sr. Loraine. “I don’t understand why the government can’t just use the same systems and programs it already has in place and leave us Little Sisters to our work of caring for the elderly poor as we have for 175 years.”

The Little Sisters of the Poor have received widespread support in their case, including from a diverse coalition of religious leaders representing Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Native American, Catholic, Protestant, and other faiths as well as over 200 Democratic and Republican Members of Congress. More than 40 friend-of-the-court briefs were filed at the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Little Sisters (view full list).

The Little Sisters’ case, along with several other religious ministries, will be heard March 23.  For more information about their case, visit www.thelittlesistersofthepoor.com.

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket Fund attorney, please contact Melinda Skea at media@becketfund.org or 202-349-7224. Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

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The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions and has a 100% win-rate before the United States Supreme Court.For over 20 years, it has successfully defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians(read more here).