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“With the stroke of their own pen, applicants can secure for themselves the relief they seek from this court — an exemption from the requirements of the contraceptive-coverage provision — and the employer-applicants’ employees (and their family members) will not receive contraceptive coverage through the plan’s third-party administrator either,” Mr. Verrilli said. “The application should be denied.”

But the sisters say that even signing a waiver will violate their beliefs.

“The fight right now is over this form,” said Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel for the Becket Fund, which is representing the sisters.

Mr. Rassbach said Express Scripts, a third-party administrator that works with Christian Brothers, does not hold a religious objection to contraceptives and could open the door to contraceptive coverage among the Little Sisters’ organization.

Now Justice Sotomayor must decide whether to take away the injunction, keep it in place or bring the issue to her fellow justices.

With battle lines drawn, pro-life and women’s health groups are lining up behind their respective parties.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group, said the administration “once again makes clear its intention to steamroll religious liberty and freedom of conscience, even for an order of nuns singularly dedicated to providing charitable care for the aged and infirm.”

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told Fox on Sunday that the nuns should sign the form and get back to the “great work that they do.”