There’s currently a bit of a kerfuffle between the Obama Administration and a Catholic ministry known as The Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of a nuns who assist elderly poor people by providing nursing homes and care. The case concerns the HHS mandate that all employers must provide health insurance that covers birth control, even though the USA has gotten along just fine without such a requirement for 237 years. The nuns take the position that they have freedom of religion and should not be forced to do anything which they find to violate their religious beliefs. The Obama Administration sees things a little differently. Their argument, well, let’s just quote exactly what they say:
[The Little Sisters of the Poor] need only self-certify that they are non-profit organizations that hold themselves out as religious and have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services, and then provide a copy of their self-certification to the third-party administrator of their self-insured group health plan. See id. at 39,874-39,886; see also 29 C.F.R. 2590.715- 2713A(b). At that point, the employer-applicants will have satisfied all their obligations under the contraceptive coverage provision.
this case involves a church plan that is exempt from regulation under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1003(b)(2). Employer-applicants’ third-party administrator therefore will be under no legal obligation to provide the coverage after applicants certify that they object to providing it.
So, in other words, the nuns must sign a piece of paper which says that they choose not to provide contraception coverage and that their third-party administrator must provide contraception coverage instead. After they sign the form, the Obama Administration says that the third-party administrator can ignore what the form says and not provide contraception coverage. So according to the Obama Administration itself, whether or not the nuns sign this form will have no effect on whether or not any person gets coverage for contraception. But nonetheless, the Administration is willing to fight all the way to the Supreme Court in order to force the nuns to sign this apparently meaningless piece of paper.
Sounds pretty ridiculous to me. Why not just have the federal government give people the freedom of religion promised in the First Amendment?