January 8, 2014 — Objections from a group of Catholic nuns to completing a form certifying its objections to contraceptive coverage are "hard to fathom," as is Supreme Court Justice Sonia "Sotomayor's baffling decision to block the requirement until the case can be considered on its merits," an Los Angeles Times editorial states.
The case involves the Little Sisters of the Poor, which operates nursing home facilities in several states. The editorial explains that the organization, as a religiously affiliated not-for-profit, is eligible for an accommodation to the federal contraceptive coverage requirements that are being implemented under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148). The accommodation ensures the organization does not have to pay for the contraceptive coverage, but the group must first submit a form notifying the government that it objects to the coverage.
The "form couldn't be easier or shorter" and will take "five minutes to fill out and sign," the Times states, adding, "Unfortunately, even that was too much for the Little Sisters of the Poor."
The editorial argues, "The Little Sisters' case hangs on the absurd argument that the simple act of filling out the form -- the whole point of which is to guarantee its freedom from the mandate -- somehow represents a 'substantial burden' on its exercise of religion." Further, the Little Sisters' argument that completing the form "would in effect be encouraging someone else to sin" is "not true in this particular case" because the group "offers health coverage through a religious insurer that is itself exempt from providing contraceptive services," the editorial explains. Therefore, "even if the nuns sign the form, employees still won't receive the coverage," according to the editorial.
"[T]he stay should be lifted immediately," the editorial concludes (Los Angeles Times, 1/7).