Federal court rules against Notre Dame in HHS mandate case
CWN - February 24, 2014
The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s decision denying the University of Notre Dame an injunction against the enforcement of the HHS mandate.
In a 2-1 decision, the appellate court ruled that “what makes this case and others like it involving the contraception exemption paradoxical and virtually unprecedented is that the beneficiaries of the religious exemption are claiming that the exemption process itself imposes a substantial burden on their religious faiths.”
“The process of claiming one’s exemption from the duty to provide contraceptive coverage is the opposite of cumbersome,” the judges added. “It amounts to signing one’s name and mailing the signed form to two addresses. Notre Dame may consider the process a substantial burden, but substantiality-- like compelling governmental interest-- is for the court to decide.”
The court also chided the university because “it hasn’t told us what exactly it wants enjoined at this stage of the litigation.”
“We imagine that what the university wants is an order forbidding [two insurance companies] to provide any contraceptive coverage to Notre Dame staff or students pending final judgment in the district court,” the judges added. “But we can’t issue such an order; neither Aetna nor Meritain is a defendant (the university’s failure to join them as defendants puzzles us).”
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