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The Washington Post: Eric Rassbach from the Becket Fund — the public interest law firm that on Tuesday won the Holt v. Hobbs prisoner rights case — was kind enough to pass along his thoughts on what the case means for religious liberty more generally.
National Review: As Justice Sotomayor’s dissent recognizes, Wheaton believes that filling out HHS’s Form 700, which instructs its third-party administrator to provide all of the regulation-ordered contraceptives, makes it complicit in potentially killing a human being. (Several of the required contraceptives may prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, thus causing the death of a human embryo.) This is Wheaton’s religious belief, and Justice Sotomayor doesn’t question the college’s sincerity or beliefs, at least not in those terms.
Public Discourse: The contradictory reasoning of Justice Sotomayor’s Wheaton dissent exposes a glaring weakness in the legal argument requiring religious non-profits to comply with HHS’s regulatory scheme.
Chicago Tribune: The U.S. Supreme Court has granted Wheaton College a temporary stay in its fight against the federal health care law’s contraception mandate and will hear arguments Wednesday from lawyers representing the school and the White House about whether the injunction should continue.
Sarah Torre at Heritage Foundation: As Alliance Defending Freedom wrote in a public comment on Monday on behalf of over 20 Catholic colleges, “No other federal rule has so narrowly and discriminatorily defined what it means to exercise religious conscience, and no regulation has ever so directly violated plain statutory and constitutional religious freedoms. The NPRM does nothing to change that fact.”
National Catholic Register: Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, a coalition of Christian attorneys formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund, told the Register that the Dec. 18 ruling shows that religious nonprofits have standing “to protect themselves from bureaucrats that are attacking their religious freedom.” “It shows that federal bureaucrats who are trying to pick and choose what faith is and who can practice faith cannot do so without oversight to ensure they don’t trample on religious freedom,” said Bowman.
Federal Appeals Court Hands Victory to Religious Colleges, Commands HHS to Act Quickly to Fix Mandate | Becket Fund
Becket Fund: Today, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. handed Wheaton College and Belmont Abbey College a major victory in their challenges to the HHS mandate. Last summer, two lower courts had dismissed the Colleges’ cases as premature. Today, the appellate court reinstated those cases, and ordered the Obama Administration to report back every 60 days—starting in mid-February—until the Administration makes good on its promise to issue a new rule that protects the Colleges’ religious freedom.
Lyle Denniston at SCOTUS Blog: Judges on the D.C. Circuit Court, the first appeals court to hear a case against the new federal health care law’s mandate for free birth control and other reproductive health services, went searching on Friday for some way to make sure that the government does not delay in issuing a final order on who has to obey that mandate. At a hearing that lasted more than twice the scheduled time, an apparent majority of the three-judge panel left the impression that they would not push for an early court ruling on the constitutionality of that requirement, even while showing some sympathy for the plight of religious colleges that complain it will interfere with their faith beliefs.
Baptist Press: The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief filed Oct. 12 that asked a federal appeals court to reverse the dismissal of two lawsuits against the controversial requirement under the 2010 health care law. The brief supports challenges by Wheaton College, an evangelical Christian school in suburban Chicago, and Belmont Abbey College, a Roman Catholic institution in North Carolina, to the mandate that employers provide workers with health insurance that covers contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs.
LifeNews: The amicus brief was authored and filed Friday by attorneys of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which has worked closely with Catholic and other Christian colleges in defense of their constitutional rights. “Belmont Abbey is not alone. Every faithful Catholic college is already suffering the damage caused by this ruinous mandate, which demands that they violate their deeply held Catholic beliefs,” said Bob Laird, Director of Programs for The Cardinal Newman Society. “Additionally, Christian colleges, businesses, and other employers who fear the loss of their religious freedom are similarly affected by the mandate. This amicus brief represents a united front in opposition to the Obama administration’s outrageous violation of religious freedom.” Catholic colleges signing ADF the amicus brief are . . .
Daily Herald: Wheaton College has appealed the dismissal of a lawsuit seeking an exemption from a health care reform mandate to provide coverage for emergency contraception. A federal judge last week dismissed the lawsuit, saying it was premature. College officials chose to appeal because they said the mandate infringes on the school’s religious liberty.
Wheaton Obamacare suit tossed: Matthew Lee Anderson on the ‘soft despotism’ of the government’s birth-control mandate
World Magazine audio segment. ADF mentioned.
NC Register: “In my view, the administration is constantly changing the rule book in order to attack religious freedom in the broadest fashion possible,” asserted Matt Bowman, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, a coalition of Christian attorneys. Alliance Defending Freedom was formerly called the Alliance Defense Fund. Bowman told the Register that government bureaucrats are “redefining what religious faith is and what faith organizations are.”
Dominique Ludvigson at the Heritage Foundation: Yesterday, Wheaton College appealed a federal district court dismissal of its lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for its anti-conscience contraception mandate.
LifeNews: The Obama administration has reportedly revised the controversial pro-abortion HHS mandate a third time, though it still fails to offer protection for religious groups not wanting to refer women for abortion-causing drugs or pay for them.
Religion Clause Blog: In Wheaton College v. Sebelius, (D DC, Aug. 24,2012), the D.C. federal district court dismissed for lack of standing and ripeness a challenge by Wheaton College to the mandate issued under the Affordable Care Act requiring group health insurance policies to cover contraceptive services for women.
SCOTUS Blog: Lawyers for a religious college in Illinois asked a federal judge in Washington on Wednesday to spare it from having to provide insurance for birth control and abortion for its employees. Wheaton College, an Evangelical Christian college that takes its name from its home city, has filed a constitutional challenge to government health care rules mandating that employers include coverage of those services in health benefit plans.
Religion Clause Blog: Yesterday yet another lawsuit was filed challenging on religious liberty and other grounds the mandate issued under the Affordable Care Act requiring health insurance policies to cover contraceptive services (as well as education and counseling of women with reproductive capacity) . . . The complaint (full text) in Wheaton College v. Sebelius, (D DC, filed 7/18/2012) alleges in part . . .
Philip Ryken and John Garvey at the Wall Street Journal: Many Americans disagree with our shared belief in the immorality of abortion. That is their right. But there should be no dispute about a second point we hold in common: Religious schools like Wheaton College and Catholic University should have the freedom—guaranteed by the United States Constitution—to carry out our mission in a way that is consistent with our religious principles. “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation,” Justice Robert Jackson wrote in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), “it is that no official . . . can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”
Huffington Post: Wheaton College, a top evangelical school, is joining a raft of lawsuits challenging the Obama administration mandate that most employers offer health insurance that covers birth control.