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Lankford, Hartzler Lead Amicus Brief in Support of ‘Little Sisters of the Poor’

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) and Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) led Members of Congress in an amicus brief to urge the United States Supreme Court not to enforce a rule issued by Health and Human Services (HHS) during the Obama administration that forces organizations like the Little Sisters of the Poor to violate their religious beliefs. In Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Trump, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro threatened the Little Sisters of the Poor ministry by challenging their religious exemption, forcing the Little Sisters of the Poor to continue to defend themselves in court. After a loss in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, the order of Catholic nuns is asking the Supreme Court to end their six year-long legal battle and let them keep their focus on serving the elderly poor.

“The Little Sisters of the Poor have devoted their lives to serve the neediest elderly population of every race and religion,” said Lankford. “Yet, the government continues to force them to violate their religious beliefs and take time and resources away from their mission. For six years, the Little Sisters of the Poor have been forced to fight against their own government which is based on the Constitutional right to live your faith or have no faith at all. The Supreme Court has sided with them twice. It’s time for the government to stop picking on the people who are actually doing good work for our nation and allow the Sisters to return to their vocation.”

“Time and again the Little Sisters have been put on trial for serving the poor and elderly in our communities. The Little Sisters are fulfilling a deeply religious calling and have dedicated their lives to nurture and care for the aging and infirmed. It is absurd that the government is harassing and threatening these faithful nuns with litigation and fines. Enough is enough,” Hartzler said. “We are calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to take and settle this case once and for all. The Little Sisters’ exemplary service is commendable. It’s time the High Court recognized and celebrated the religious liberties of the devoted, good Samaritans in our midst.”

Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), John Boozman (R-AR), Mike Braun (R-IN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), James Risch (R-ID), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and 78 Members of the House of Representatives joined this amicus brief.

In May 2016, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned a lower court ruling against the Little Sisters of the Poor and granted them an exemption from the HHS contraceptive mandate, which required the nuns to provide services such as the week-after pill in their health care plans or pay millions of dollars in fines. In 2016, the government admitted, before the Supreme Court, that it can provide contraceptives to women without forcing the Little Sisters of the Poor to participate. In fact, both California and Pennsylvania have programs to provide contraceptives to women who request them.

In 2016, Lankford submitted an amicus brief to the US Supreme Court in support of the religious nonprofits and charities challenging Obamacare’s HHS mandate, including Little Sisters of the Poor.

In 2017, HHS announced a new rule to protect religious non-profits, including the Little Sisters of the Poor, but several states, including Pennsylvania and California, immediately sued the federal government to remove the protection. The 3rd Circuit, placed a nationwide injunction on HHS’s new conscience protection rule. On October 22, the 9th Circuit ruled to place an injunction on the new rule for the following states: California, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, New York, Illinois, Washington, Minnesota, Connecticut, North Carolina, Vermont, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and DC.

The amicus brief can be found HERE.