Justice Sotomayor temporarily blocks contraception mandate for Catholic nuns

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Hours before the ball dropped Tuesday night, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor temporarily blocked the Obama administration from forcing an organization of Catholic nuns from complying with the Health and Human Services contraception mandate.

“IT IS ORDERED that respondents are temporarily enjoined from enforcing against applicants the contraceptive coverage requirements imposed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 42 U. S. C. § 300gg-13(a)(4), and related regulations pending the receipt of a response and further order of the undersigned or of the Court,” Sotomayor wrote in her order.

Sotomayor’s decision to grant a temporary injunction from the Obamacare contraception mandate — that would have forced the religiously affiliated organization to offer insurance with contraception coverage or face hefty fines — came in response to an application from Denver’s Little Sisters of the Poor.

“We are delighted that the Supreme Court has issued this order protecting the Little Sisters,” Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty — which represents the Little Sisters — said in a statement. “The government has lots of ways to deliver contraceptives to people — it doesn’t need to force nuns to participate.”

According to the Beckett Fund, prior to Sotomayor’s order, injunctions had been granted in 18 out of 20 similar cases.

Sotomayor, who is the justice assigned to emergency applications for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, gave the government until 10 a.m. Friday to respond.

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