Rutgers Legal Expert: Nuns’ Challenge of Contraceptive Mandate ‘Unusual’

Rutgers legal expert Ron Chen says it's unusual to ask for a stay because the law already has a religious exemption.

By Desirée Taylor
Senior Correspondent

The nuns are exempt. That’s the White House response to the Little Sisters of the Aged and Poor filed a legal challenged against Obamacare, claiming the mandate goes against their religious beliefs. Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted the nuns a temporary injunction. Via Skype, Rutgers legal expert Ron Chen explains.

“They clearly have an argument that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear it. That religious organizations cannot be forced to provide for medical procedures that they may have scruples against, like contraception and abortion,” Chen said.

The White House says the mandate doesn’t apply to the nuns organization. The Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr.wrote, ” Applicants have no legal basis to challenge the self-certification requirement or to complain that it involves them in the process of providing contraception coverage. This case involves a church plan that is exempt from regulation.”

“The government’s argument — you don’t need court to give an exception in this case because the act itself already does that,” Chen said.

The Archdiocese of Newark calls the contraceptive mandate discriminatory. Spokesperson Jim Goodness says, “They force religious communities and Catholic charities programs to choose between following their consciences or paying expensive fines.” Residents we spoke with have mixed opinions.

“Whether you are religious or not, I think Pope Francis is making it very clear that it’s a very individual choice. I have nothing against any religion, I love them all but it’s a very individual thing you know. What might not be good for me may be good for somebody else and it is something between God, themselves, and their conscience,” said Kathy McMahon-Richardson.

“I don’t mind them being exempt. I’m Catholic myself. I understand that, I don’t subscribe to that but that’s the tenants of the religion but I’m I don’t know enough to know if this might be, there might be some sort of under pinning that may cause some kind of domino effect,” said George Mcmanus..

There have been dozens of legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act before. Justice Sotomayor could decide soon whether to let the nuns’ case continue.