The headquarters of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. (Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0)

Trump admin hasn’t given up the birth-control mandate fight against Catholic nuns yet

Under the Trump administration, the Justice Department is not yet giving up the Obama-era fight against the Little Sisters of the Poor on a measure that required employers to provide birth control to their employees.

The Little Sisters — a religious order that runs a worldwide network of homes to care for the elderly — have argued that the mandate to provide their lay workers with access to contraception violates their religious beliefs.

From The Washington Post:

The Justice Department has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for an additional 60 days to negotiate with East Texas Baptist University and several other religious groups objecting to a requirement to which they are morally opposed.

The request doesn’t necessarily mean Justice plans to continue defending the mandate — the agency could just be buying extra time as the new administration figures out its next move. A DOJ spokeswoman said Tuesday she had no comment on the request to the fifth circuit.

But the lack of clarity from the Trump administration is dismaying to several religious groups, including the Little Sisters of the Poor — a group of nuns — that fought the mandate for several years but expected an immediate reprieve under the GOP president. They believed either the DOJ would halt its appeal in the case or the administration would seek a rules change from the Department of Health and Human Services.

As The Post notes, then-candidate Trump indicated to Catholic leaders that he’d ensure the requirement was lifted. “I will make absolutely certain religious orders like The Little Sisters of the Poor are not bullied by the federal government because of their religious beliefs,” Trump wrote in a letter to the Catholic Leadership Conference.