“This is a major blow to the federal government’s contraception mandate. For the past year, the Notre Dame decision has been the centerpiece of the government’s effort to force religious ministries to violate their beliefs or pay fines to the IRS.” said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which filed an amicus brief in the case. “As with the Supreme Court’s decisions in Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby, this is a strong signal that the Supreme Court will ultimately reject the government’s narrow view of religious liberty.
The Supreme Court has weighed in on the lawsuit Notre Dame filed against the HHS mandate compelling religious groups and businesses to pay for drugs for their employees that may cause abortions.
After a lower court dismissed the lawsuit, today the Supreme Court ordered the lower court to reconsider its ruling that denied a Catholic university the freedom to follow its faith.
Previously, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Miller Jr. dismissed the suit, claiming that Notre Dame is sufficiently protected by a very narrowly-drawn religious exemption in the mandate — that pro-life legal groups say does not apply to every religious entity. Then, a three-judge panel from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision on a 2-1 vote.
In appealing that decision, the University of Notre Dame brought its request to the Supreme Court — saying the lower court decision made it the only nonprofit religious ministry in the nation without protection from the HHS mandate. The Supreme Court’s ruling today vacates the entire lower court decision forcing Notre Dame to comply and the 7th Circuit must now review its decision taking into consideration the entire Hobby Lobby case upholding that company’s right to not be forced into compliance.
The Obama administration has relied heavily on that lower court decision in other courts around the country, arguing that it should be able to impose similar burdens on religious ministries like the Little Sisters of the Poor.
As The Becket Fund, a legal group supporting Notre Dame, informs LifeNews, today the Supreme Court vacated the Notre Dame decision entirely, and sent the case back to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its aberrant ruling in light of the recent ruling in Hobby Lobby protecting religious freedom.