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Judge dismisses lawsuit against HHS mandate

Catholic World News - July 18, 2012

A Nebraska federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by seven states and several Catholic plaintiffs against the HHS mandate.

Senior US District Judge Warren Urbom ruled that the Catholic plaintiffs lacked standing because they “face no direct and immediate harm” from the mandate, which will not go into effect for most religious organizations until August 1, 2013. The judge also said that the states’ argument that the mandate would increase state expenditures was “based on layers of conjecture.”

The Nebraska ruling involved one of twelve separate lawsuits filed against the contraceptive mandate by various Catholic and secular organizations. The other suits remain pending. If another federal court reached a different decision, the clash would increase the likelihood that the issue would eventually be settled by the US Supreme Court.

The judge said that Catholic plaintiffs had failed to prove that they would be harmed by the contraceptive mandate. He pointed to the delay in implementing that aspect of the law, the exemption for some religious institutions, and the fact that President Obama had offered a new "compromise" provision to religious employers. The plaintiffs, Judge Urbom said, had not shown definitively that they would not qualify for exemption from the law.

The attorney generals who lodged the suit said that they would consider an appeal, noting that the judge's ruling did not address the question of whether the contraceptive mandate was indeed a violation of religious freedom. “Essentially, this decision asks millions of Americans to watch and wait for their religious liberties to be violated,” said Attorney General Jon Bruning of Nebraska, one of the states that filed the lawsuit.

Judge Urbom, 87, was appointed to the bench by President Richard Nixon in 1970.

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: mgreen32234 - Jul. 20, 2012 3:21 PM ET USA

    Maybe these lawsuits are being dismissed because it is a tax and you cannot claim harm until the tax is actually in effect? heh, heh says Justice Roberts.

  • Posted by: Father Fetus - Jul. 18, 2012 9:13 PM ET USA

    I know a lot of octogenarians who are pretty sharp. This judge is not one of them.

  • Posted by: unum - Jul. 18, 2012 6:27 PM ET USA

    Jon Bruning said it all! I guess it would be impolite for AG Bruning to mention that Judge Urbom seems to be the poster boy for a manditory retirement age for federal judges.

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