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Obama Gives Sotomayor’s Contraceptive Mandate Injunction the Smackdown

Government says Colorado nuns don’t need the stay, but they sure like the sympathy.

The Obama Administration stood up for birth control once again on Friday, telling the Supreme Court that a group of Colorado nuns doesn’t need the temporary injunction granted by Justice Sonia Sotomayor on New Year’s Eve that protects them from having to offer contraception coverage to employees.

According to the government, the Little Sisters of the Poor can easily exempt itself from the Affordable Care Act’s provision that went into effect on January 1, requiring employers providing insurance coverage to employees to include contraceptive coverage. Nonprofits like the Little Sisters can opt out of the contraception requirement by simply stating that they have religious objections—a compromise provided by the Obama Administration where third party insurers would then pay for the coverage or request government reimbursement.

The nuns claim that applying for the exemption would still make them implicit in providing contraception to their employees. Not true says the government, which pointed out in its response to Sotomayor that the nuns’ third party insurer is actually a church plan that can’t be required to provide contraceptive services.

That means employees of Little Sisters of the Poor won’t be getting birth control coverage from the nuns—or from their third party insurer. So why all the fuss and last minute pleas for an injunction? It’s more likely because the nuns are a sympathetic group to use as test case for challenging the law. The government has asked Sotomayor to lift the injunction—a decision she could make on her own or refer to the other eight justices. We’re guessing Sotomayor will let this one go. But will we?

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