A Matter of Basic Fairness

New Marist Poll: Majority of Americans Think Government Position Unfair to Little Sisters of the Poor


With the U.S. Supreme Court now reviewing the arguments on both sides in a religious freedom case, a new Marist Poll conducted for the Knights of Columbus finds a majority of Americans think that the government is being unfair in its treatment of the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious employers.

By a more than 20-point margin (53 to 32 percent) a majority of Americans say that the process demanded by the government’s “accommodation” is “unfair.” Unlike many other religious organizations or those organizations whose health plans are “grandfathered” and are “exempt” from providing contraception and abortion-inducing drugs, the Little Sisters and many other religious employers are required by the government to sign a form directing their contractors to deliver such coverage through these religious employers’ own health plan.

After hearing the case on March 23, the Supreme Court – in a highly unusual move – requested additional filings from the attorneys for both the government and the religious employers, including the Little Sisters of the Poor. The initial round of filings was made on April 12. A second filing will be made on April 20.

“It is not reasonable for the government to demand that some – and only some – religious employers engage in activity that is totally unnecessary to the government’s stated purpose of providing elective and morally problematic drugs to employees,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “Such action doesn’t just violate the rights of employers like the Little Sisters, it is also at odds with the American people’s understanding of basic fairness, and our long-standing commitment to protecting the deeply-held beliefs of every American — especially when those beliefs are the minority view.”

The survey of 1,020 adults was conducted April 8-12, 2016, by the Marist Poll and sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the continental United States were interviewed in English by telephone using live interviewers. Results for adults are statistically significant within ±3.1 percentage points. The error margin increases for cross-tabulations.