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New SCOTUS Term: Win for Nuns on HHS Mandate?

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Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

October 5, 2015, CBN News

This week the Supreme Court begins a new session. The big question — will this term mean a win or loss for groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor that oppose the government’s health care contraceptive mandate?

As it stands, religious groups use a workaround that allows them to opt out of providing coverage for contraceptives. But some religious groups say that’s not enough.

“The government keeps calling this workaround an opt-out or an accommodation, but the interesting thing is that if the Little Sisters of the Poor or other religious groups and ministries are forced to sign the government’s contraceptive mandate permission slip, they actually don’t get treated like other houses of worship, ” Stephanie Barclay, legal counsel with Becket Fund for Religious Freedom, explained.

Barclay says the Little Sisters of The Poor would be treated like “big box corporations who still have to use their health plan to provide the drugs and devices that violate their religious beliefs.”

“What the Little Sisters have been saying is, ‘That’s not an accommodation; that’s called a violation of our religious beliefs,'”she added.

Barclay told CBN News the government has already offered to some big businesses, like Pepsi bottling and Exxon Mobil, for “purely political reasons.”

“It’s really astounding that while the government has offered these types of exemptions to companies, it won’t offer the same exception to the Little Sisters of the Poor to allow them to avoid violating their sincere religious beliefs,” Barclay said.

The Becket Fund filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor in 2012.

“The Little Sisters of the Poor serve the nation’s poor and elderly with a passion and love that is inspired because of their faith,” said Barclay.

“They hope that the Supreme Court would rule in their favor so they can get back to doing their noble work unhindered by the government and they wouldn’t have to choose between violating their faith and continuing their noble ministry,” she continued.

The justices are meeting in public Monday for the first time since a number of high-profile decisions in June.