Saturday, April 19, 2014

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Catholic Education Daily

 

Catholic Colleges Vow to Fight On

In the light of today's Supreme Court ruling upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty announced that its lawsuits on behalf of two Catholic institutions of higher learning challenging the controversial HHS contraception mandate will continue. The Becket Fund represents Belmont Abbey College and Ave Maria University in their challenges to the HHS mandate. The nonprofit is also representing Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) and  Colorado Christian University in mandate challenges. A statement from the Becket Fund noted:
“The court’s opinion today did not decide the issues in our cases,” said Hannah Smith, Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.  “We are challenging the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate on religious liberty grounds which are not part of today’s decision.  We will move forward seeking vindication of our client’s First Amendment rights.” The Court’s decision leaves untouched the controversial HHS mandate, a regulation based on other provisions of the Affordable Care Act that the Court was not asked to review in this case.  The mandate compels employers to provide drugs and services in their employee health care plans regardless of religious objections to those services.  Employers who fail to comply face staggering financial penalties. “The Becket Fund’s religious liberty lawsuits against the unconstitutional HHS mandate will continue,” said Smith. “Never in history has there been a mandate forcing individuals to violate their deeply held religious beliefs or pay a severe fine, a fine which could force many homeless shelters, charities, and religious institutions to shut their doors.”
Speaking to The Cardinal Newman Society in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling, Belmont Abbey College President William Thierfelder admitted that the decision was "obviously a little disappointing" but vowed to continue the fight for religious freedom. "We've got to be strong and move forward," he said. "We are in the Fortnight for Freedom. We are praying and taking action to preserve and protect our religious liberty." "Sometimes," Thierfelder added, "it's clear what God is doing and sometimes it's not clear to us. But good will come out of this." Thierfelder stressed in no uncertain terms that "the fight for religious liberty goes on." Ave Maria University President Jim Towey also sent a statement to The Cardinal Newman Society. "The fight continues," it said. "Ave Maria University will press ahead with its lawsuit and fight for our religious freedom." Here is the statement from Ave Maria University President Jim Towey in its entirety:
"The Supreme Court of the United States may have decided one case  today but it likely has not heard the last on the Affordable Care Act. Today the Supreme Court decided that the Constitution allows the federal government the right to tax citizens and require them to purchase health insurance. However, it did not settle the religious liberty questions that remain unresolved. Ave Maria University continues to believe that the government under this Act is seeking to violate our Constitution right of religious freedom as well as established Federal law that protects faith-based institutions from governmental interference. Ave Maria's Federal lawsuit, and the dozens of others like it filed throughout America, challenging the government's mandate to either provide abortion inducing drugs and sterilization services in our health plans or face crippling fines will continue to go forward. Those in the Administration who think the Constitutional issues surrounding the Affordable Care Act and its implementation are settled, badly underestimate the breadth of support for religious liberty that exists in America. The fight continues. Ave Maria University will press ahead with its lawsuit and fight for our religious freedom."

Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.

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