Catholic University says it will keep fighting the Obamcare HHS mandate that compels religious groups to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions after a court dismissed its lawsuit against the mandate.
In a decision rendered on Friday a federal judge dismissed their lawsuit against the government as premature. The judge, from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, issued an opinion saying Catholic University and four organizations that joined its lawsuit filed the suit prematurely because they are not yet adversely affected until the Obama administration finalizes planned changes to the mandate.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, a President Barack Obama appointee, dismissed the case filed by The Archdiocese of Washington, The Catholic University of America, Consortium of Catholic Academies, Archbishop Carroll High School, and Catholic Charities of D.C.
Judge Jackson said, “If after the new regulations are issued, plaintiffs are still not satisfied, any challenges that they choose to bring will be substantially different from the challenges in the current complaint.”
The judge noted that the Obama administration extended a “safe harbor” clause to religious non-profits that delayed enforcement of the mandate until August 1.
“While we are disappointed by the decision, we are not discouraged in the least because the judge based her dismissal solely on procedural grounds; she did not rule nor make any judgments on the merits of our case,” Catholic University said in response to the decision.
The National Catholic Register provides more details on the ruling.
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In a Jan. 25 ruling, U.S. district judge Amy Berman Jackson’s determined that the Archdiocese of Washington’s lawsuit was not “ripe” for consideration.
However, she cited the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ Dec. 18 decision that said the Obama administration must be held accountable for its promise to revise the mandate as it applies to objection religious organizations.
That decision had similarly dismissed a lawsuit from Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina and Wheaton College, a Protestant Christian institution in Illinois. The appeals court dismissed the case on the grounds of ripeness, pointing to the government’s claims during oral arguments that it would “never” enforce the mandate in its current form against religious institutions with moral objections.
Government lawyers said there will be “a different rule for entities like the appellants,” the appeals court said, adding that it takes this claim “as a binding commitment.”
“This court finds no reason why the circuit court’s decision should not apply equally to the facts of this case,” Jackson said. “The court notes that it has construed the government’s representations as a binding commitment and it would not look favorably upon the government’s failure to comply.”