Court sides with Catholic schools, hospitals against HHS mandate
CWN - December 17, 2013
Invoking the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, a federal district court judge has barred enforcement of the HHS mandate against two New York-area Catholic high schools and two Catholic health care systems. The Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Rockville Centre, which are currently exempt from the mandate, also joined the lawsuit.
The “plaintiffs have demonstrated that the Mandate … compels them to perform acts that are contrary to their religion,” ruled Judge Brian Cogan, whom President George W. Bush appointed to the bench.
“And there can be no doubt that the coercive pressure here is substantial,” he added. “If plaintiffs do not comply with the Mandate, they are subject to fines of $100 per day per affected beneficiary. If they seek to cease providing health insurance altogether, they face an annual fine of $2,000 per full-time employee. The only other option available to plaintiffs is to violate their religious beliefs.”
The New York ruling is important because it is the first case in which a federal court has granted a permanent injunction against the enforcement of the HHS mandate. (Other non-profit groups have won preliminary injunctions, barring enforcement until the case is settled.) The Obama administration has the option to appeal the ruling.
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