A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit a Christian college in Colorado filed against the HHS mandate, that compels religious groups to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions in their employee health care plans.
Evangelical liberal arts institution Colorado Christian University is suing on religious liberty grounds, like many Christian organizations and businesses have done.
The Becket Fund previously filed similar lawsuits on behalf of Belmont Abbey College, a small Catholic liberal arts college in Belmont, N.C., and Colorado Christian University, an interdenominational Christian liberal arts university near Denver, which demonstrates that this is not just a Catholic issue. Both suits were filed prior to the HHS rules being finalized.
The judge dismissed CCU’s case because the Obama Administration plans to revise the rules to possibly expand the very narrow religious exemption in them, according to an AP report.
Court documents filed Tuesday indicate the judge granted the federal government’s request to dismiss the case. The government had argued the case wasn’t ripe for judicial review because it plans to issue new regulations to accommodate religious objections of employers like the university, and the school is protected from any enforcement action against it until at least July 1, 2014.
But Matthew Archbold of the Cardinal Newman Society says pro-life advocates are very skeptical that the changes will protect religious employers.
Once again, the federal government has been successful in having a lawsuit dismissed on the grounds that it is not ripe for review as the Obama administration has, once again, waved a promise to issue new regulations to accommodate religious objections to the HHS mandate.
The Christian university, which was the first inter-denominational college to file suit against the HHS mandate, falls under the safe harbor provision which reportedly delays enforcement of the mandate against it until next year. When the University filed the lawsuit, CCU President Bill Armstrong called the HHS mandate an “unparalleled attack” on religious freedom.
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Eric Baxter, an attorney for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty which is representing the University, told The Cardinal Newman Society that CCU is still considering its options for an appeal. But there’s a precedent for hope as Belmont Abbey College, a Catholic college in North Carolina, saw its lawsuit dismissed on similar grounds last year but recently an appellate court reinstated the case.
Baxter did add, however, that the “burden is now on the government to come up with a rule that will relieve the burden on religious freedom as they have promised to do.”
Reportedly, the government has indicated that there will be some announcement about that in March. “We remain skeptical,” said Baxter. “But now we wait to see what the government does.”