The United States Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court

It’s a case in which the U.S. government has been accused of claiming the authority to “determine what is in fact a sin.”

The critics, meanwhile, have accused the U.S. Supreme Court of tilting the playing field in advance.

But the Little Sisters of the Poor case against the Obamacare law is moving toward a resolution with the U.S. Supreme Court announcing arguments have been scheduled for March 23.

The nuns who run elder care centers worldwide are contesting the Obamacare requirement that their employee insurance plans cover abortion pills.

The Becket Fund, which is working on behalf of the nuns, said the high court will decide whether the Little Sisters of the Poor and other faith-based ministries can be forced to change their health-care plans “to offer drugs that violate their religious beliefs when those same drugs could be made available through healthcare exchanges.”

“After promising that the Little Sisters’ religious beliefs would be protected, the government created a new regulation requiring the Little Sisters change their healthcare plan to offer drugs that violate Catholic teaching,” the group explained. “One third of U.S. workers are employed by secular companies (e.g., Exxon and Visa) that the government has exempted from having to provide these same drugs in their plans because those employers did not try to update their health plans under ACA and are ‘grandfathered.'”

In the lower courts, the Little Sisters have argued that the requirement to participate in the government’s plan to distribute contraceptives violates their exercise of religious freedom. While an earlier Supreme Court opinion protected some for-profit companies from the law’s requirement, nonprofit organizations were left at risk.

The accusation that the government had become the arbiter of religious beliefs came in a friend-of-the court brief filed by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of dozens of client.

“If this appeal is lost, the government becomes the head of every religious denomination in the country by its assumed authority to determine what is in fact a sin,” said Thomas More’s president, Richard Thompson.

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The organization’s brief argues that neither the government nor the Supreme Court “can determine whether an act does or does not violate a person’s religious beliefs.”

“Rather, the Supreme Court must accept the non-profits’ assertions that the notification requirement is indeed against their religion.”

To accept otherwise, the brief says, “is to supplant the church and the Bible with the government, allowing the Supreme Court and the government to interpret [tenets] of faith.”

“This slippery slope would subject all religious exercise to the whim of the government’s approval,” it said.

“The court is not the arbiter of sacred Scripture and cannot determine whether the notification form and letter are attenuated enough from the provision of contraceptives that they do not substantially burden petitioners’ religion,” the brief said. “Delving into this inquiry requires the court to interpret petitioners’ religious beliefs on the morality of the different levels of complicity with sin.

“Therefore, the court can only determine whether petitioners are being compelled to do something that violates their faith – here, filling out the notification form or writing a notification letter to HHS, both of which trigger the dissemination of contraceptives and abortifacients to their employees in connection with their employee health plans.”

It was the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that, according to the brief, assumed the authority of determining what is sin.

From the past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons is available some critically important advice, “Surviving the Medical Meltdown: Your Guide to Living Through the Disaster of Obamacare.”

Another recent brief explained: “Perhaps the apex among a host of acts of governmental arrogance in this case was displayed not by HHS, but when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit acted as if it had ecclesiastical powers of absolution, having decreed that by just signing a paper, Little Sisters would not be ‘morally complicit in providing contraceptive coverage.'”

The brief said one would expect that “on the issue of who the God of Heaven and Earth will hold ‘morally complicit,’ it would be the Little Sisters which would have the greater expertise than a federal judge.”

WND also reported when another brief charged that the Obama administration adopted the “secular amorality” of a committee from the Institute of Medicine in demanding the abortion pill coverage.

And it charged that the high court now has “tilted the playing field” by excluding First Amendment arguments from its discussion of the mandate that religious employers cover abortion pills in their insurance plans.

“It can be seen that this court, by excluding any briefing of the Free Exercise issue in this case, has tilted the playing field – making it virtually impossible for the petitioners to achieve a meaningful victory,” said the brief submitted by the attorneys at William J. Olson P.C. and the United States Justice Foundation on behalf of the USJF, Eberle Communications Group, Public Advocate of the U.S., Citizens United Foundation, Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall and others.

The Supreme Court has agreed to rule on whether the government’s interest in a private medical group’s “overarching objective of promoting and facilitating a secularized sexual lifestyle for women without the need to incur any out-of-pocket costs to prevent or terminate an unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease” warrants ordering religious employers to violate their First Amendment-protected right to exercise their religious beliefs, the brief notes.

The brief explains there are First Amendment principles supporting the Little Sisters and others, but the Supreme Court said the only arguments that would be reviewed concern the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which establishes conditions under which the government can make a demand that violates religious beliefs.

“This court’s refusal to consider the First Amendment constitutional issues takes the process of constitutional exclusion one step beyond that which occurred last year in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores,” the brief says.

In the Hobby Lobby case, the court decided the government could assign the cost of abortions demanded by employees to taxpayers rather than the company’s health insurance program, citing the RFRA law but excluding First Amendment discussion.

It said the law’s requirements for a “compelling interest” and a “least restrictive” method were not met, providing only a narrow window of protection.

“The protection of religious liberty promised by RFRA proponents was dramatically overstated. … [The law] actually makes it the law of the United States that, under certain circumstances, as in the seemingly unreviewable opinion of a majority of the nine unelected lawyers then sitting on this court, the government ‘may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion’ when the government’s claimed interest really mattered,” the breif explains.

The brief says the court “should revise the questions presented on which certiorari is granted, and ask the parties to participate in supplemental briefing on the Free Exercise Clause issue. Unless this court pushes this ‘reset button,’ it could easily reach a decision that RFRA provides no statutory protection for petitioners, forcing them to be morally complicit in facilitating abortion, even though a decision reached under the Free Exercise Clause would have demanded the opposite result.”

Such a conclusion, the lawyers warned, “would deserve no respect from the American people.”

The Supreme Court already has ruled several times on Obamacare, the first time redefining the “fees” in the law as “taxes” to avoid violating the Constitution. The justices also ruled that insurance exchanges “established by the state” includes federal as well as state exchanges, meaning subsidies can be granted in states that chose not to establish an Obamacare exchange.

However, the court ruled in the Hobby Lobby case that religious employers cannot be required to participate in some parts of the law.

The justices recently refused to look into the fact that although the Constitution requires tax-revenue bills to start in the House, Obamacare was written and launched in the Senate. It was adopted by only Democrat votes in both the House and Senate, but it is expected to raise hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes.

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