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Will Supreme Court Hear Little Sisters’ Case

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Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

October 26, 2015, National Catholic Register

“Everything about this conflict in the courts flows from the government’s decision to be stingy with the exemption and to try to choose whose religious freedom gets protected and whose doesn’t,” Mark Rienzi, senior counsel with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, told the Register. The Becket Fund is a public interest law firm that represents religious nonprofits, including EWTN, in challenging the HHS mandate.

The Becket Fund also represents the Little Sisters of the Poor, a congregation of women religious who serve the elderly poor in more than 30 countries.

On Oct. 13, the Becket Fund filed a brief with the Supreme Court, urging it to take up the Little Sisters’ case. The brief was filed in response to the federal government’s argument that asked the court not to choose the sisters’ challenge.

“Our brief argues that the government doesn’t get to pick who it faces in court,” Rienzi said. “And there are very good reasons for the court to pick the Little Sisters’ case.”

Rienzi said the court should select the Little Sisters’ challenge because the case, in addition to citing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, also includes a First Amendment argument that focuses on the question of whether the government has the authority to pick and choose who receives a religious exemption from the mandate.

“The government basically says to the sisters that if they let the bishops control and fund the nursing homes for them, then the government would consider them exempt,” Rienzi said. “But because the sisters insist on running them on their own, the government is going to force them to cover those drugs.”

Said Rienzi, “That’s a really weird thing for the government to say to anybody.”