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ACLJ & 79 Members of Congress Back Catholic Legal Challenges to HHS Mandate
"The mandate devastates the religious freedom of all employers seeking to comply with their religious beliefs. This is not just an issue negatively impacting Catholics. This is an issue negatively impacting employers of all faiths," said Edward White, senior counsel, American Center for Law and Justice.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 2012—The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is increasingly drawing the ire of Catholics today. Twelve separate lawsuits brought by more than 40 Catholic organizations are challenging an HHS mandate that, according to the nation's top conservative public interest law firm, violates the religious beliefs of the organizations.
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is representing 79 members of Congress in submitting amicus briefs in all 12 of these lawsuits, agreeing that the mandate violates the religious beliefs of these organizations.
Those opposing the HHS mandate include the Archdiocese of New York, the University of Notre Dame, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and others. These Catholic organizations are challenging a mandate that requires employers to cover sterilization, prescription contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and related patient education and counseling services in their health insurance plans, regardless of the employers' religious opposition to such services.
"It is essential to defeat the HHS mandate," said Edward White, senior counsel of the ACLJ. "The mandate devastates the religious freedom of all employers seeking to comply with their religious beliefs. This is not just an issue negatively impacting Catholics. This is an issue negatively impacting employers of all faiths."
In their "friend of the court" briefs, the ACLJ on behalf of itself and the members of Congress it represents, explains that the mandate runs counter to America's long tradition of accommodating the religious beliefs and practices of all its citizens. The briefs contend that the mandate imposes an unconstitutional burden on individuals and organizations that firmly oppose having to subsidize, provide or facilitate activities and services contrary to their religious beliefs.
The ACLJ's own federal lawsuit challenging the HHS mandate is proceeding in federal court in St. Louis. The first lawsuit challenging the mandate filed on behalf of a private business, the suit contends the mandate violates constitutionally protected religious beliefs. Last week the ACLJ filed a motion urging the court to block the HHS mandate for O'Brien Industrial Holdings, LLC, a privately held business and the plaintiff in the suit.
Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice focuses on constitutional law and is based in Washington.