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Local Catholic Groups Cheer Supreme Court Stay Of Contraceptive Mandate

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A tug of war between the White House and the Catholic Church over a provision in the federal government's Affordable Care Act is playing out in D.C.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has extended an emergency stay for Catholic institutions challenging the portion of the health law that requires employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives.

The Archdiocese of Washington is a co-plaintiff in the suit with other groups, including the Catholic University of America. In a statement, the Archdiocese said: "This action by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is in line with the rulings of courts all across the country which have held that the HHS mandate imposes a substantial and impermissible burden on the free exercise of religion."

The stay in D.C. comes just as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a stay in addressing complaints filed by The Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged in Denver, Colorado. The nuns claim the health care provision requiring employers to provide coverage for contraceptives violates their religious belief and practice.

The White House, which had crafted a compromise to the provision that prevented Catholic organizations from directly paying insurance premiums intended to provide birth control, issued a statement claiming that the mandate “strike[s] the balance of providing women with free contraceptive coverage while preventing nonprofit religious organizations with religious objections to contraceptive coverage from having to contract, arrange, pay, or refer for such coverage.”

Justice Sotomayor says the Obama administration has until Friday to respond to her ruling.

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