University of Notre Dame Re-Files Lawsuit Against Obama’s Contraception Mandate

Posted by Matt Yonke (December 4, 2013 at 1:59 pm)

Notre Dame LogoIn light of the US Supreme Court’s recent announcement that it will hear the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood v. Sebelius cases concerning the HHS Mandate, the University of Notre Dame has re-filed their case against the Mandate.

University president Fr. John Jenkins said in a press release:

Our abiding concern in both the original filing of May 21, 2012, and this re-filing has been Notre Dame’s freedom—and indeed the freedom of many religious organizations in this country—to live out a religious mission. We have sought neither to prevent women from having access to services, nor even to prevent the government from providing them.

Jenkins, who invited President Obama to speak at the University’s commencement under a cloud of controversy in 2009, had hoped that the administration would be responsive to the concerns of Catholics and others about the infringement on religious freedom the Mandate poses, but:

We have concluded, however, the government’s accommodations would require us to forfeit our rights, to facilitate and become entangled in a program inconsistent with Catholic teaching and to create the impression that the University cooperates with and condones activities incompatible with its mission. In these ways, we contend, the regulations compel us to violate our religious beliefs.

The University sympathizes with the administration’s goal of providing healthcare to all, but said Jenkins:

. . . if we concede that the government can decide which religious organizations are sufficiently religious to be awarded the freedom to follow the principles that define their mission, then we have begun to walk down a path that ultimately will undermine those institutions.

For if one presidential administration can override our religious purpose and use religious organizations to advance policies that undercut our values, then surely another administration will do the same for another very different set of policies, each time invoking some concept of popular will or the public good, with the result these religious organizations become mere tools for the exercise of government power, morally subservient to the state, and not free from its infringements.

If that happens, it will be the end of genuinely religious organizations in all but name.

Among those cheering Notre Dame’s decision to re-file is Ave Maria University President Jim Towey. Ave Maria is another Catholic university with a lawsuit pending against the HHS Mandate. From the University’s press release:

Faith-based organizations, whether non-profit or private, should not be compelled to violate conscience to carry out such a mandate. The Obama administration could have expanded access to contraception through any number of methods—using its vast array of community health center and state public health clinics, but instead it chose the most offensive way possible: it chose to force faith-based groups to be the foot soldiers in their armies of contraception.

These are just two of the 87 cases currently being litigated against the HHS Mandate. Keep an eye on the Stand Up for Religious Freedom blog for further developments in all these cases as they come to light.

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