A federal appeals court ruled in favor of the Obama Administration on Friday in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the controversial HHS mandate which was launched by Priests for Life, the Archdiocese of Washington DC and Thomas Aquinas College – all of whom vow to fight on.
“Priests for Life will not obey the mandate! Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever!” said the nation’s premier Catholic pro-life organization just after the ruling was handed down on Nov. 14. The groups have all announced their intention to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
According to the Associated Press, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected the challenge in a 3-0 ruling. They cited the existence of an accommodation to the law which allows religious organizations to certify to their insurance companies that they are operating as a nonprofit religious organization and oppose coverage for contraceptives.
“That bit of paperwork is more straight-forward and minimal than many that are staples of nonprofit organizations’ compliance with law in the modern administrative state,” wrote appeals judge Cornelia Pillard, an Obama appointee to the bench.
“Religious nonprofits that opt out are excused from playing any role in the provision of contraceptive services, and they remain free to condemn contraception in the clearest terms,” she added.
“The ruling makes an offensive distinction between the Church and its ministries of service,” said a statement issued by the Archdiocese of Washington.
“It specifically classifies the services provided by Catholic hospitals, clinics, universities, schools and social service ministries as ‘not inherently religious,’ and thus disqualified for inclusion in the mandate’s exemption for ‘houses of worship.’ In other words, the Court holds that although churches should not be required to facilitate access to morally offensive products and procedures for their employees, church-affiliated ministries are not ‘religious enough’ to qualify for the very same exemption.”
Instead of advancing the goal of Catholic health care institutions to provide compassionate care to the local community, “the HHS mandate violates the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by seeking to force the archdiocese and its affiliated ministries to cooperate in the delivery of morally objectionable products and procedures,” the statement continues. “We remain undeterred in our commitment and determination to serve others freely in accordance with our faith.”
Thomas Aquinas College president Michael F. McLean said, “We disagree with the opinion of the D.C. Court of Appeals in our challenge to the HHS contraceptive mandate, and we will be appealing it to the United States Supreme Court. We look forward to vindicating our religious liberty rights there.”
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