Right before she headed to New York’s Times Square to lead the official countdown to 2014 last night, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued an emergency stay temporarily blocking the contraceptive mandate for a number of Catholic organizations in Colorado.
Sotomayor handles emergency applications from the 10th Circuit, which includes a number of Western states. On Dec. 30, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had denied an injunction to Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged, Christian Brothers Services, and Christian Brothers Employee Benefits Trust. The lawsuit was filed as a class action on behalf of a number of Catholic organizations.
“We are delighted that the Supreme Court has issued this order protecting the Little Sisters,” Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund, said in a statement. “The government has lots of ways to deliver contraceptives to people—it doesn’t need to force nuns to participate.”
The mandate would have gone into effect for those Catholic organizations starting today.
The federal government has until Friday to respond to the organizations’ application to the Supreme Court, and Sotomayor then will decide whether to extend the emergency stay.
The high court has already agreed to hear arguments for two for-profit companies, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, who object to the mandate on religious grounds. It hasn’t granted any nonprofit cases yet.