Court: Obama Admin “Doesn’t Have the Right” to Impose HHS Mandate on Christian Colleges

National   Steven Ertelt   Dec 27, 2013   |   2:37PM    Washington, DC

The Obama administration has lost yet another court case against the controversial HHS mandate that forces companies, colleges, and religious groups to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions under their employee health plans.

Today a Houston federal court delivered a major blow to the controversial HHS mandate ruling in favor of East Texas Baptist University and Houston Baptist University.  In a 46-page opinion, the court ruled that the federal mandate requiring employers to provide employees with abortion-causing drugs and devices violates federal civil rights laws, and issued an injunction against the mandate. Religious plaintiffs have now won injunctions in 9 out of 12 such cases involving non-profit entities challenging the mandate.

“The government doesn’t have the right to decide what religious beliefs are legitimate and which ones aren’t,” said Eric Rassbach, Deputy General Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and lead attorney for East Texas Baptist and Houston Baptist Universities. “In its careful opinion, the Court recognized that the government was trying to move across that forbidden line, and said “No further!”

In its opinion, the federal court specifically rejected the government’s argument that it evaluate the Universities’ beliefs: “The religious organization plaintiffs have shown a sincerely held religious belief that the court cannot second-guess.”

The decision is part of a recent groundswell of cases decided against the government. In nine of the twelve cases decided thus far, federal district courts across the country have issued injunctions against the mandate.

“The government has enforced the health care reform law very unevenly, handing out exemptions to those it sees as its allies,” stated Rassbach. “Perhaps the worst part of the government’s approach is that it seems to have decided that religious institutions are the only ones not to get an exemption.”

Also participating as plaintiff in the case is Westminster Theological Seminary, a Reformed Protestant seminary based in Philadelphia. Westminster is represented by Kenneth Wynne of Wynne & Wynne, LLP.

To date, there are currently 89 lawsuits challenging the unconstitutional HHS mandate.

The decision is good news in the battle against the mandate after, in another case, Priests for Life had its lawsuit tossed.

Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, tells LifeNews he is very concerned after learning that Priests for Life’s lawsuit against the HHS contraception mandate was dismissed by a judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“The judge’s decision today is a complete contradiction to Judge Cogan’s decision of just a few days ago in New York for organizations situated similarly to us and using exactly the same arguments.

“The New York decision recognized that the religious nonprofits were being forced to cooperate with evil.Our judge, instead, claims that we are not being forced to cooperate with evil. Our judge’s decision is wrong, and we are confident of victory in our appeal.

“Meanwhile, injunction or not, we will absolutely not obey, cooperate with, or tolerate in any way this unjust mandate. As Scripture says, we will obey God rather than men.”

The Supreme Court recently agreed to take a case from Christian-run business Hobby Lobby, which is suing the Obama administration over its mandate that it pay for birth control and abortion-causing drugs for its employees. But where do Americans stand on the issue of whether employers should be forced to comply with the mandate?

A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows they apparently agree.

“Half of voters now oppose a government requirement that employers provide health insurance with free contraceptives for their female employees,” Rasmussen reports.

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The poll found: “The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 38% of Likely U.S. Voters still believe businesses should be required by law to provide health insurance that covers all government-approved contraceptives for women without co-payments or other charges to the patient.

Fifty-one percent (51%) disagree and say employers should not be required to provide health insurance with this type of coverage. Eleven percent (11%) are not sure.”

Another recent poll found 59 percent of Americans disagree with the mandate.