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Judge dismisses diocese’s suit against HHS mandate

Catholic World News - January 25, 2013

A federal district judge has dismissed the Diocese of Erie’s lawsuit against the HHS mandate.

Ruling that the lawsuit is not ripe, Judge Sean McLaughlin, a Georgetown University alumnus and Clinton appointee, dismissed the suit on several grounds:

(1) the safe harbor period officially precludes enforcement of the Mandate against the Plaintiffs until at least January 2014; (2) Defendants have committed to finalizing an amended form of the Mandate by August 2013; (3) Defendants have committed to publishing the new proposed amendment during the first quarter of 2013; and (4) Defendants have essentially guaranteed that the Mandate, in its current form will never be enforced against these Plaintiffs (or other similarly situated religious entities).

While ruling that “it cannot be said that they [the diocese and two associated charities] presently face any harm or threat of harm from that particular aspect of the regulation,” the judge left open the door for a future lawsuit by the diocese.

“I still believe the action the government has taken in this matter is a violation of our First Amendment right to religious liberty,” said Bishop Lawrence Persico of Erie. “We anxiously await the [administration's] promised revisions to the regulations and hope that we will not have to bring the matter before the courts again in order to secure religious liberty -- a fundamental American right -- for our fellow citizens and for future generations.”

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  • Posted by: unum - Jan. 26, 2013 7:33 AM ET USA

    One can have no confidence in the federal judiciary to protect our constitutional rights based on Judge McLaughlin's decision where he reasoned: 1) The feds have promised to modify their violation of our rights by August 2013, and 2) The feds will publish a "modified" violation by 3/31/2013, and 3) The feds have "essentially guaranteed" that the violation will never be enforced against some of us. Georgetown (In the Jesuit tradition) must teach a different Constitution than we read!

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