The Supreme Court announced today that it has agreed to hear two cases challenging the controversial Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, which requires organizations—including Catholic colleges—to provide health insurance coverage for contraceptive and abortifacient drugs, as well as sterilization for its employees.
According to the U.S. Supreme Court’s website, it will hear combined arguments for Sebelius, Sec. of H&HS, et al v. Hobby Lobby, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius, Sec. of H&HS, et al.
A statement released by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who represents Hobby Lobby, Inc., states, “[Hobby Lobby]…took the unusual step in October of joining the government in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, despite the family’s victory in the U.S.Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals,” in July 2013.
In that ruling, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote, "that the contraceptive-coverage requirement substantially burdens” the Green family, who owns the arts and crafts retailer.
Referencing today’s Supreme Court announcement, the Becket Fund’s general counsel, Kyle Duncan, said in the same statement, “This is a major step for the Greens and their family businesses in an important fight for Americans’ religious liberty. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will clarify once and for all that religious freedom in our country should be protected for family business owners like the Greens.”
Meanwhile, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who represents Conestoga Wood Specialties, also issued a statement reacting to the Supreme Court news. “The government shouldn’t be able to punish Americans for exercising their fundamental freedoms,” stated senior counsel David Cortman in ADF’s press release. “The administration has no business forcing citizens to choose between making a living and living free. We trust the Supreme Court will agree. A government that forces any citizen to participate in immoral acts--like the use of abortion drugs--under threat of crippling fines is a government everyone should fear.”
This case is believed to have far-reaching implications for Catholic colleges, some of which have sued the Obama administration to protect their conscience rights and to avoid being forced to provide coverage for drugs and actions that they find to be morally objectionable and at odds with their Catholic faith.
According to the Becket Fund, there are currently 84 lawsuits challenging the unconstitutional HHS mandate. In addition to representing Hobby Lobby, the Becket Fund represents EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network), Ave Maria University, and Belmont Abbey College among others opposing the HHS mandate.
Ave Maria University and Belmont Abbey College are recommended in The Newman Guide for their strong Catholic identity.
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