By Dave Andrusko
Pardon me if this sounds very familiar. The Associated Press reports that still another federal judge has dismissed a challenge to the Obama mandate, accepting the government’s argument that “the case wasn’t ripe for judicial review because [the government] 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.”
The mandate, issued by Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services, requires employers to purchase health insurance for their employees that includes coverage for items and procedures, such as contraceptives, that they have moral or religious objections to. More than 40 lawsuits have been filed against the HHS rules.
The lawsuit was brought in December 2011 by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty on behalf of Colorado Christian University. CCU was the first interdenominational Christian college to challenge the mandate in federal court.
“Abortion is a highly controversial issue in American life,” explained CCU President Bill Armstrong at the time the lawsuit was filed. “But that is not the issue raised by the HHS regulations. The question is—may a government agency compel support of abortions by those whose religious convictions forbid them from doing so. The law does not permit such compulsion, in our opinion, nor will the conscience of our fellow citizens, whether abortion proponents or opponents.”
This mandate “forbids us from practicing what we preach,” said Armstrong. “How can we train our college students to advocate for limited government and personal freedom—especially religious freedom—if we don’t fight this unparalleled attack on those very principles?”
According to a post on the Cardinal Newman Society Blog:
“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.’
And that, of course, is the rub. Few, if any, opponents of the HHS mandate believe the government will provide a rule that “relieve[s] the burden on religious freedom.”