The Little Sisters of the Poor are not likely to be forced by the federal government to pay for anybody’s birth control, let alone any woman’s abortion, no matter how their lawsuit goes. But the anti-Obamacare rabble-rousers have pretended that the Little Sisters’ religious freedoms were about to be grossly violated. Media coverage of the Supreme Court’s one-paragraph extension of the injunction in their case portrayed it as a victory for the Little Sisters and their Becket Fund lawyers, because they will not, for the time being, be obliged to fill out the government form (a form characterized by a Becket Fund representative as a “permission slip,” but which would simply have registered their putatively religion-based objections to contraception and thereby freed them from any complicity in the ostensible scandal and evil thereof–the case is quite baroque already).
In fact, as UPI Senior Legal Affairs Writer Michael Kirkland pointed out yesterday, “Little Sisters Jab, But No KO.” Kirkland gives the misleading impression that employees at nursing homes run by the Little Sisters might get birth control coverage if the nuns agreed to sign the government form. (Lyle Denniston’s coverage at Scotusblog is more reliable. ) However, Kirkland correctly notes that the Supreme Court order still obliges the Little Sisters to inform the federal beast in writing that they “are non-profit organizations that hold themselves as religious and have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services…applicants need not use the form prescribed by the government.” The Becket Fund did a little victory dance, perhaps because they can now express their objections to the contraceptive mandate in 64 different crayon colors.
The really important cases, with the potential to open up whole new realms of corporate privilege, are Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, coming up for oral arguments March 25. Scotusblog has links to some of the dozens of “Amicus” briefs filed already.