Why Is Minnesota Making War On the Little Sisters of the Poor?

The Little Sisters of the Poor is an international organization of Catholic nuns. Founded in the 19th Century, its mission is to care for the impoverished elderly. Its nuns take vows of chastity, poverty, obedience and hospitality. The Little Sisters were swept up in constitutional litigation when the federal government tried to force the Little Sisters to provide week-after pills and other contraceptive devices as part of the Sisters’ health care plan, in violation of the Sisters’ religious beliefs. The government tried to collect $70 million from the order to punish it for refusing to succumb to government bullying.

Happily, in May 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in the Litter Sisters’ favor, holding that contraceptives could be provided to covered employees without involving the Little Sisters, and must be so provided.

But the battle was not over. On October 6, 2017, the Trump administration issued a new rule under the Affordable Care Act with a broader religious exemption. A group of states led by California then sued to block implementation of the new rule:

The States disagree with the agencies’ policy choice to try to retain a broad contraceptive mandate for virtually all previously-covered employers, while providing a religious exemption for groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor.

That case, which seeks once again to force the Little Sisters to bow to the power of government in a manner that violates their religious beliefs, is now pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. This is the current status:

The Little Sisters of the Poor will be in court Thursday to ask for protection from a lawsuit by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra threatening their religious ministry. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will hear arguments in California v. Little Sisters of the Poor and decide if California and… other states can force Catholic nuns to provide services such as the week-after pill in their health care plan in violation of their faith. In 2017, following an Executive Order, a five-year legal battle resulting in a Supreme Court victory, and a new HHS rule protecting religious non-profits, the Little Sisters finally received a religious exemption that applies to non-profits nationwide. Yet California immediately sued the federal government to take that exemption away. Joined now by 12 other states and the District of Columbia, Attorney General Becerra is forcing the Little Sisters back to court to defend their hard-earned religious protection.

The left-leaning states that have joined California’s attack on religious organizations are Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington…and Minnesota.

Minnesota’s Department of Human Services, acting through the state’s Attorney General, is trying to bully the Little Sisters of the Poor and many other religious and charitable organizations to force them to abandon their religious beliefs in order to serve the dictates of the federal government. Why? Is this really how Minnesota’s taxpayers want their money spent? Why did former Attorney General Lori Swanson go out of her way to participate in a California lawsuit that has no particular connection to Minnesota? And why has current Attorney General Keith Ellison decided to continue spending the state’s resources on such a lawsuit?

Minnesota taxpayers–not to mention those who believe in religious liberty–should protest vigorously against the Minnesota Attorney General’s misuse of taxpayer funds to serve a leftist agenda.