What does SCOTUS Silence on Nuns’ Contraception Mandate Challenge Mean?

Last year the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged filed for a religious exemption from having to comply with the contraception mandate provision of Obamacare.  Little Sisters is run by a group of Catholic nuns based in Colorado and they have a number of nursing homes in their system.

Their initial request was denied and they appealed the denial. The courts upheld their denial stating that the Obama administration had provided a new alternative for religious institutions like Little Sisters where they did not have to pay for the contraception mandate.  The insurance company would provide that coverage at no cost to religious groups like Little Sisters.

However, Little Sisters argued that their premium dollars are still being used to pay for the insurance company provided contraception which includes abortion inducing drugs.  When the courts continued to turn them down, they filed a last minute appeal to the US Supreme Court.

Just prior to the January 1 start of the contraception mandate, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor shocked the Obama administration by issuing a stay to prevent Little Sisters from having to comply with the contraception mandate.  In her ruling, Sotomayor stated that no one should be forced to violate their religious faith at this time, until the full Supreme Court could rule on the matter later this year.

Two days later, the Justice Department called Sotomayor and strongly urged her to withdraw her stay.  In essence, Obama’s henchmen were telling Sotomayor that the religious faith of the Little Sisters nuns meant nothing to them and that the government could violate their faith if they wanted to.

When Sotomayor would not comply with the urging of the Justice Department, they turned to the full court, asking them to lift the stay and force Little Sisters to comply or pay the huge fines.  It’s been a week and a half since the Justice Department turned to the full court and they’ve been silent on the matter which may not bode well for the Justice Department and the White House.

At the moment, the Supreme Court appears to have three options:

The Supreme Court could decide to overturn Sotomayor’s stay and force Little Sisters to comply.  However if they do, that will not resolved the real issue as a number of other lawsuits using the same argument are pending in courts across the land.

The Supreme Court could issue a blanket order to block the contraception mandate from being enforced for any employer.  This is not an acceptable solution for liberals who want to provide female employees with free access to birth control and abortion inducing drugs like the day after pill.

The Supreme Court has a third option to grant the appeal of Little Sisters.  However, the high court is generally hesitant to make such a ruling prior to the appeals working their way through the federal appeals court system.

The longer the Supreme Court remains silent and allows Sotomayor’s stay stand, the more problematic the case becomes for the Obama administration.  We can only hope and pray that their silence bodes well for religious institutions and eventually the end of the contraception mandate altogether.