Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Supreme Court Protects Little Sisters

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             A Message from the Executive Director
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Dear Friends,

As you may know, last Friday at 4pm, the Supreme Court ruled that our client, the Little Sisters of the Poor, would be protected from crushing IRS fines while we continue to fight for them in the Tenth Circuit. Not one member of the Court dissented from the order.

At once, we felt relieved for the Sisters. No fines. For now. We were also overjoyed that the order also specified that the Sisters would not have to sign a government "permission slip" that is in direct violation of the Sister's religious beliefs. 

But, there are a lot of hurdles ahead. And, for the sake of the Sisters' work and every American's religious freedom, we need to overcome them.

The "permission slip," or certification, is something worth considering for a moment since you will hear a lot about it in the months to come. In broad strokes, the certification specifies that the Sisters oppose contraceptives and potentially life terminating drugs. This part is true. However---and this is the big however--it also authorizes, directs, and legally binds others to provide these drugs.

The government says the Little Sisters should sign and distribute the authorization form because "at this time" the government has not yet figured out how to force Christian Brothers to distribute the drugs.  But the government also emphasizes that it is still considering ways to force Christian Brothers and other third parties to act on the Sisters' forms. And the Little Sisters simply can't authorize, direct, and bind people to provide contraceptives--they can't help with the government's contraceptive delivery scheme at all--even if the government says the system doesn't work just yet.

Instead of protecting the Little Sisters' religious liberty, the government has mocked their stance by characterizing their courage, in court, as a fight against "invisible dragons." Here's a link to the court transcript, but you do not need to read the entire document. The "dragon" reference appears on the end of page 93.

Just yesterday, Bill Mumma and I went to visit the Little Sisters of the Poor in their home in Baltimore. It was the most special day I have experienced in my almost 16 years at Becket. The Little Sisters aren’t kidding when they say they go begging in order to provide for their residents. They truly devote all of their skills and talents to find every unique and possible way to make their residents feel loved and at home. They showed us how to be joyful and grateful despite having limited resources. Their overwhelming gratitude towards us was humbling and a great reminder of why we do what we do.

And with this reminder, we will continue to fight for the Sisters in the Court of Law and in the court of public opinion. If the government is willing to do this to the Little Sisters, what will they do to the rest of the faithful?

As soon as the Supreme Court released its order, Daniel Blomberg went on Greta Van Susteren's show and I appeared on Megyn Kelly's program. It is important for the American people to know what is happening to the Sisters and to religious liberty in this country.

If you have 3 minutes, please watch:

   Daniel on Greta  KA on Kelly

Also, today over 50 friends of the court (amici) briefs will be filed in support on the rights of Hobby Lobby’s Green Family. Bi-partisan legislators, religious leaders, legal scholars and 20 individual states are coming together to support their legal challenge to the HHS Mandate. The briefs are due at midnight, but as of 11AM this morning, we have:

  • Three Congressional briefs will be filed by members of Congress from both parties, for a total of 107 bipartisan members of the House and Senate representing 34 states.
  • Law professors who filed a brief explaining that religious accommodations like the one that protects the Greens are constitutional.  Including: Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law School, Robert George of Princeton, Eugene Volokh of UCLA Law School, Rick Garnett of Notre Dame Law School, Steven Smith of the University of San Diego Law School, Nathan Chapman of University of Georgia Law School, Michael Moreland of Villanova Law School.
  • Women’s groups, Doctors and medical scholars, and religious groups that included the USCCB, the Orthodox Union, a leading Orthodox Jewish association, Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, a Santeria church that won a 9-0 Supreme Court victory under the Free Exercise Clause, Hindus, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Prison Fellowship Ministry , Anglican Church in North America, Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities, and Democrats for Life are also filing.

The oral argument takes place on March 25. We are working around the clock to prepare for this moment, which will determine to what extent we can exercise our religious freedom. 

Many thanks for your supportAs always, feel free to call or email with any questions you may have.
Kristina Arriaga
Executive Director
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