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Supreme Court issues emergency stay halting birth control mandate for Catholic nuns

Sotomayor NYC
Timothy A. Clary / AFP-Getty Images / December 31, 2013 via LA Times

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Before heading to New York to ring in the New Year, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor gave temporary relief to an order of Catholic nuns being forced to implement the birth control mandate under the new healthcare law going into effect Wednesday.

“In her order, Sotomayor said the government is temporarily prevented from enforcing contraceptive coverage requirements against the Denver-based group, Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged, and must respond by 10 a.m. Friday,” Fox News reported.

“She acted on an emergency appeal from lawyers for the group who said the nuns faced ‘draconian fines’ beginning on New Year’s Day if they failed to comply with the law widely known as Obamacare,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Without an emergency injunction, Mother Provincial Loraine Marie Maguire has to decide between two courses of action: (a) sign and submit a self-certification form, thereby violating her religious beliefs; or (b) refuse to sign the form and pay ruinous fines,” attorney for the nuns Mark L. Rienzi said.

Although several religious organizations had petitioned the court to block the birth control mandate from going into effect Wednesday, Sotomayor’s order applies only to the Little Sisters “and does not apply more broadly to the Affordable Care Act and its requirements,” the Times said.

This March, the Supreme Court will hear the combined cases of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties to determine “whether businesses may use religious objections to escape a requirement to cover birth control for employees,” according to Fox News.

Related: Catholic nuns file first class-action lawsuit against contraception mandate

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