Sotomayor Grants Last-Minute Stay In Obamacare Challenge From Catholic-Related Groups

250px-Sonia_Sotomayor_in_SCOTUS_robe220px-New_Year_Ball_Drop_Event_for_2012_at_Times_SquareMany of us stayed up to midnight last night and watched the ball come down in Times Square. If you were still sober enough to notice, the person triggering the dissent was none other than Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor. It turns out that that was not the only thing that she was doing on New Year’s Eve. Late Tuesday with only hours to go before January 1st — and the activation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — Sotomayor granted a stay requested by Catholic-affiliated groups to prevent the implementation of part of the ACA to require them to supply contraceptive services to employees in violation of their religious beliefs. The decision follows a refusal of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to issue a stay. The stay order by Sotomayor was requested from Catholic nuns running the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged in Denver and now joins a stay issued earlier by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The decision guarantees that no one will have morning after regrets today in allowing the law to be implemented without a final resolution of the religious freedom claims. Sotomayor could still lift the stay since she gave the Obama Administration until 10 am EST on Friday to respond to the order. Until then, the government is “temporarily enjoined from enforcing against applicants the contraceptive coverage requirements imposed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

The decision is a victory for the Becket Fund, which argued that “the ‘accommodation’ still forces the Little Sisters to find an insurer who will cover sterilization, contraceptive and abortion-inducing drugs and devices.”

The stay makes sense given the Court’s decision to hear similar arguments in the Hobby Lobby case discussed earlier. The case involves objections from businesses and individuals like David Green, founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby, who insist that the Act’s required support for contraceptive services violates religious rights. Two cases were accepted: Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (13-354); and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius (13-356).

Under the ACA, non-for-profit religious corporation have an exemption. However, Hobby Lobby is a for-profit company that is run according to the family’s religious beliefs. These new Catholic-affliated groups are not parts of the Church but educational institutions like Catholic University and other types of enterprises.

While the Obama Administration arranged for insurers to pay for such services for religious objectors, that compromise would still require the businesses to sign off on the payment for services in contradiction to their beliefs. Such stays are significant legally because they are granted on a view that the party is likely to prevail on the merits. Earlier a D.C. Circuit panel split 2-1 in granting a similar stay. Judge David S. Tatel dissented in the case, concluding “[b]ecause I believe that appellants are unlikely to prevail on their claim that the challenged provision imposes a ‘substantial burden’ under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, I would deny their application for an injunction pending appeal.”

Putting aside that standard, the decision could reflect an accommodation for those members who granted cert in Hobby Lobby. The decision freezes the status quo and, if not reversed after Friday, would allow the Court to proceed to the merits in the Hobby Lobby case without having chaos over whether and how the provision can be enforced. That case is expected to be argued in March and decided by summer.

127 thoughts on “Sotomayor Grants Last-Minute Stay In Obamacare Challenge From Catholic-Related Groups

  1. My fathers feeding tube was placed w/o my mother’s permission. She was simply TOLD, “You’re husband can’t swallow, we’re placing in a feeding tube.” She was in shock, and of the generation that never questioned doctors.

  2. Pardon my ignorance but I still have no idea what davidm2575 is trying to convey in a logically reasonable manner.

    One thing I am sure that he lacks any bravura or reasoning to answer to my post directed to him.

    • Teji Malik wrote: “Pardon my ignorance… he lacks any bravura or reasoning to answer to my post directed to him.”

      Your ignorance is pardoned. If your questions were less emotional and more terse and logical, I might try to answer them. Your post seemed rather concerned with a typo I made and using prejudicial bigotry to impugn my character. I am here for more serious forms of inquiry.

      • davidm2575 wrote: “Your ignorance is pardoned. If your questions were less emotional and more terse and logical, I might try to answer them. Your post seemed rather concerned with a typo I made and using prejudicial bigotry to impugn my character. I am here for more serious forms of inquiry.”

        My answers were based on your comments. They were terse and logical.You are being emotional in your post, not me. Please try to be honest. Show me where I did what you claim above. “using prejudicial bigotry to impugn my character”.

        How did I impugn your character? I do not even know you. LOL. Who is being emotional here?:-)

        It is ok to disagree and discuss the disagreements which are also parts of any learning process, but it is not OK to cop out when we are trying to learn from each other.

        • Teji Malik wrote: “How did I impugn your character?”

          “English does not seem to be your forte as I have noticed in many of your posts.”

          “Talking about life, do you like donkey meat as it is sold in China by Walmart?”

          “What an uneducated way to babble!… You mean they use contraceptives in an immoral manner?”

          “David, even semen has life in case you did not know. So, you must have had many tadpoles swimming in your undies during your wet dreams.:-)”

          “That is your not so thoughtful opinion which I happen to disagree with.”

          I consider you rude and disrespectful, so unless I observe a sincere and intelligent question, please allow me to ignore your katzenjammer.

          • davidm2575: You do not like bluntness from others except when it is coming from you it seems.

            Let me ask you once again, how is your character impugned by talking and asking about the facts? Is this an emotional reaction or just a cop out? You can be honest about it this time.

            • Teji Malik wrote: “how is your character impugned by talking and asking about the facts?”

              Stop being so obtuse. That’s not what you were doing. Do you really expect me to answer a question like the following?

              “do you like donkey meat as it is sold in China by Walmart?”

  3. David, if you’re looking for “more serious forms of inquiry”, maybe you’d like to mosey over to the Stewart post where you have made certain allegations regarding SNAP.

    I’m still anxious to learn how owners of mult-million dollar homes on 5000 acres manag to pay property taxes, and “many” SNAP recipients with millions (or sometimes just thousands) in the bank collect subsidies.

  4. Mike, Nick and Annie

    Thanks for your responses.

    Nick’s story on the feeding tube illustrates my distrust of hospitals respecting DNRs. All you need is one sanctimonious, officious sob who thinks he knows best and a procedure is done and becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to undo. Of course, not that any member of the RCChurch is sanctimonious or anything. One just needs to consider Cardinal Dolan, for instance….

    Mike A, I believe your cynicism regarding the motives of Hobby Lobby (and the other opponents – including the Little Sisters. What? It’s too much to sign a document?) is well founded. I’m just surprised that you believe that ACA could have passed without any (however messy) compromise. You’ve probably addressed this in your posts. I’ll look them up.

  5. Mike A, I have just read Contraception and Separation. Splendid. But my research did not turn up a second. If you’re still hanging around – can you give me a search term?

    • PDM,

      I have deleted a number of personal comments from you and ask that you comply with our policy of avoiding personal attacks and name calling. This site strives to offer an exception to the types of personal attacks common on other sites under a civility rule. We just went through a bad bout with such a tit-for-tat. Name calling and personal characterizations undermine the merit of the arguments and degrade the dialogue on the site. This rule is not for everyone, but I hope that you will understand our desire to avoid this type of discussion. It is certainly not for everyone but we like the civility rule and the atmosphere that it preserves. I would appreciate your help in maintaining that line.

      Jonathan Turley

  6. davidm2575 wrote:”Stop being so obtuse. That’s not what you were doing. Do you really expect me to answer a question like the following?

    “do you like donkey meat as it is sold in China by Walmart?”

    David,FYI, the news about donkey meat being sold in China is on this very blog and was meant to be tongue and cheek as we are talking about life in this post. Many people eat different kinds of meat. Nothing wrong with it.

    I apologise if you are a vegan and do not eat animal life but only non- animal life in order to survive because as mentioned before, we have to destroy life to consume for our own survival.

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