Catholic groups ask Supreme Court to delay Obamacare mandate
December 31st, 2013
04:41 PM ET
9 months ago

Catholic groups ask Supreme Court to delay Obamacare mandate

Updated 6:23 p.m. ET, 12/31/2013

Washington (CNN) – A group of Catholic organizations, in an emergency appeal on Tuesday, asked the Supreme Court to delay the Obamacare requirement that certain religious-affiliated groups provide contraception and "abortion-inducing drug" coverage to their workers.

Archdioceses in Washington, D.C., Tennessee and Michigan - along with affiliated groups that include Catholic University - asked Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Elena Kagan to block enforcement of the employer mandates under the Affordable Care Act set to take effect on Wednesday.

The issue has been a major sticking sticking point with religious groups and private for-profit companies that have strong moral objections.

Under final rules negotiated between the administration and a variety of outside groups, churches and houses of worships are exempt from the mandate.

But other non-profit religious-affiliated groups like church-run hospitals and parochial schools must either provide no-cost contraception coverage or have a third-party insurer provide separate benefits without the employer's direct involvement.

"Tomorrow, applicants (the Catholic organizations] will be forced to choose between onerous penalties or becoming complicit in a grave moral wrong," according to the court filing from the groups.

"Just as an individual may be held accountable for aiding and abetting a crime he did not personally commit, so too may a Catholic violate the moral law in certain circumstances by cooperating in the commission by others of acts contrary to Catholic beliefs.

"For some, religion provides an essential source of guidance both about what constitutes wrongful conduct and the degree to which those who assist others in committing wrongful conduct themselves bear moral culpability," the groups said.

There was no indication when Roberts, Kagan or the high court as a whole would rule.

The appeal came after the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville pressed President Barack Obama on the issue.

He asked Obama in a letter that went further than the appeal to Roberts and Kagan to exempt some businesses and religious-affiliated institutions from enforcement of the mandate - through fines - until the Supreme Court rules on the matter.

He pointed to other delays the administration has made in the law, such as putting off until 2015 the requirement for all employers with more than 50 workers to provide health coverage.

But Kurtz notes that "an employer who chooses, out of charity and good will, to provide" health insurance for employees can still face fines if that employer does not want to comply with the contraception requirement.

"In effect, the government seems to be telling employees that they are better off with no employer health plan at all than with a plan that does not cover contraceptives," he writes.

The letter represents a major first act by Kurtz, who was elected president of the bishops' conference in November, succeeding Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

The Supreme Court agreed last month to hear two cases involving for-profit corporations who say their religious liberty is violated by the law.

Among the plaintiffs is Hobby Lobby, Inc. nationwide chain of about 500 arts and crafts stores.

At issue is whether private companies can refuse to do so on the claim it violates their religious beliefs.

The privately held company does not object to funding all forms of contraception – such as condoms and diaphragms – for their roughly 13,000 employees, which Hobby Lobby says represent a variety of faiths.

The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, said in court filings they object to contraceptives like the morning after pill, which they would say constitutes abortion and violates their faith.

Hobby Lobby calculated that their refusal to provide the coverage could result in a fine of up to $1.3 million daily.

The White House said in November that it believes a requirement on contraceptives is "lawful and essential to women's health."

– CNN's Eric Marrapodi and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Belief Blog:

Opt out option expected for religious insurers who oppose contraceptives

Catholic Bishops not satisfied with Obama’s contraception compromise


Filed under: Faith • Health care • Obamacare
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    Is this a religion or Law or nation's activity? Nonsense. Is this a putting religion clout before what is good for USA? Nonsense, bribe....god only save these animals. No wonder people lost interest in church, temple, mosque etc.

    December 31, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  2. Randy, San Francisco

    With the population boom exploding in third world countries, does the Roman Catholic Church have a master plan to feed all the hungry masses?

    December 31, 2013 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  3. Areoth

    When talking contraception many people thing only pill and condoms. What many forget is there are also implants and IUD's. May religious organizations object to IUD's because they think they can be seen as aborting an embryo. IUD's are not a do it at home birth control method, nor are implants. They are medical procedures. They should be covered under health insurance.

    December 31, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  4. smith

    We have a population problem here in the US. Contraceptive methods, procedures, and materials should be free of charge.

    December 31, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  5. Don in albuquerque

    And as the world population explodes are these very saintly gentlemen going to feed them?

    December 31, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    The United States is NOT a theocracy. Period.

    December 31, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain

    @Areoth: "When talking contraception many people thing only pill and condoms. What many forget is there are also implants and IUD's. May religious organizations object to IUD's because they think they can be seen as aborting an embryo."

    IUDs do NOT abort an embryo; they work either by preventing the fertilization of the egg or by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterine wall.

    The day the Catholic Church lets priests marry and have children is the day I'll listen to them about family planning.

    December 31, 2013 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  8. Thewholetruth

    Why can't people just close their legs?! You all behave worse than animals.

    December 31, 2013 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  9. Pander Bear

    Wonder what they'll say when the Pope comes out and says that contraception is OK.

    December 31, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  10. sad state of affairs

    but calling other catholics names, accusing them of crimes, or now as the pope has decried against earning money, doing it all week even though it is against a moral law is ok?

    December 31, 2013 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  11. John/kc

    Catholics don't seem to have any trouble killing in wars, so they don't have a religious leg to stand on!

    December 31, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  12. mammasaysso

    If these bishops truly believe that it's a sin to provide birth control pills, then they should pay the fine and be done with it. But...money is more important to these bishops, apparently.

    December 31, 2013 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  13. mindstorms1

    The church should concentrate on fixing their systemic child abuse problems before they tell anyone how to run their lives.

    December 31, 2013 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  14. Steve Wolff

    So I either break God's law or man's. Guess which one I care about more.

    December 31, 2013 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  15. evan

    These "faith based" organizations are friends of faith but enemies of fact. Sure, the gop controlled s
    upremes will support them but it is but another step into the dark ages. No better than the middle east

    December 31, 2013 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  16. srcactus

    Freedom of religion can have only one meaning and government meddling is refusal to allow the constitutional guarantee. Our founders did foresee this threat and they did show intent to protect the people from an overbearing big government. Refuse health insurance coverage. Send the employees a stipend labeled employer contribution and let the employee find their own insurance.

    December 31, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  17. Rick McDaniel

    Just shut everything down........the colleges, the hospitals.........all of it.

    December 31, 2013 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  18. Name

    Only when the person want to do it. But I think this does not limited to woman only. Men can do something too. Since it takes two to have a baby ,so both side should be the blame not the women , it is such nuisances that it attach to a woman. Why should the woman always have this kind of unfair treatment , where else the man can freely go around. Be warned that any kind of thing that is put into woman is a tresspass to their body. So please be advised that think of a better

    December 31, 2013 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  19. Jerry

    You can't be Catholic and PRO CHOICE it's that simple or that hard depending on how you believe.

    December 31, 2013 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  20. MrMightyHigh

    If an organization has to access the labor market at-large to staff their operation, then they have to follow the rules of secular society.

    December 31, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  21. WE DEMAND THAT YOU MAKE CHILDREN

    even if you can't afford to feed them afterwards. It's OK if they die – they'll go to heaven, if you've paid up your dues – uh, I mean, "donations" to the Cult – uh, I mean "Church".

    December 31, 2013 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  22. ardvrk

    CATHOLICS SAY, "We don't care if you have children you can't afford to feed and who'll die of starvation – we only care about children when they're still inside a woman. Once they're out – they're on their own."

    December 31, 2013 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  23. Thomas

    Birth Control Please !

    December 31, 2013 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  24. Liz the First

    This is NOT a theocracy! your argument is invalid.

    December 31, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  25. just saying

    smith - We have a population problem here in the US.
    --

    not true. we have an illegal population problem here. enforce the laws of this nation and fix the problem.

    December 31, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
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