Wheaton College Sues Over HHS Mandate

"We are choosing to litigate in order to defend our freedom of conscience and First Amendment freedom of religion" --President Ryken

The following press release was just received by The Aquila Report.  Content of a message Dr. Ryken sent to alumni of the school follows:


On the heels of the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act decision, Wheaton College (Ill.), a leading evangelical liberal arts institution, filed a lawsuit today alongside The Catholic University of America in the D.C. District Court opposing the Health and Human Services “Preventative Services” mandate, which forces both institutions to violate their deeply held religious beliefs or pay severe fines.

This alliance marks the first-ever partnership between Catholic and evangelical institutions to oppose the same regulation in the same court.

President Philip Ryken and President John Garvey will discuss details and take questions from the press at 10:30am EST.

WHAT: Press call to discuss Wheaton’s lawsuit and alliance with The Catholic University of America against the HHS mandate

WHO: Dr. Philip Graham Ryken, President, Wheaton College

John Garvey, President, The Catholic University of America

Kyle Duncan, General Counsel, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

WHEN: Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

10:30 a.m. EST

CALL-IN: (800) 704-9804, Participant code: 743216

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. The Becket Fund has a 17-year history of defending religious liberty for people of all faiths. Its attorneys are recognized as experts in the field of church-state law, and they recently won a 9-0 victory at the U.S. Supreme Court in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, which The Wall Street Journal called one of “the most important religious liberty cases in a half century.”

Additional Information

HHS Information Central – Learn more about all 23 challenges to the HHS mandate

Becket Fund’s Legal Challenges to HHS Mandate – Learn more about our cases

From:Dr. Philip Ryken, President, Wheaton College

Sent: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 9:03 AM

Subject: Wheaton College Files Lawsuit Regarding HHS Mandate

Dear XXX

I write to ask you to pray for Wheaton College.

Wheaton is one of many religious institutions that has paid careful attention to a portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which has serious implications for the College’s ability to carry out our mission according to our Christian convictions.

The mandate, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), requires the insurance plans of religious institutions (except churches) to cover all government-approved contraceptives. The list of approved contraceptives includes abortifacient “morning after” and “week after” drugs. I have written about the College’s stance on the mandate, including our efforts to communicate our concerns to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in this column in the Daily Herald.

This morning, the Board of Trustees filed a lawsuit in the Washington, D.C. District Court opposing the mandate, which, if enacted, would force the College to violate its religious beliefs or pay severe fines. We are joining with Catholic University of America in order to demonstrate that a deep concern for the sanctity of human life and a strong belief in the importance of religious freedom are areas of commonality that transcend our theological differences. More information can be found here.

I have every hope that Wheaton College will continue to provide excellent health care to all of its employees. However, we stand to face punitive fines for not complying with the HHS regulations as of January 1, 2013. For this reason, we are choosing to litigate in order to defend our freedom of conscience and First Amendment freedom of religion.

Please keep us in prayer as we pursue this action. I will be on Capitol Hill from 3-4 p.m. today to offer brief remarks about religious liberty, followed by a short reception. I’d welcome the opportunity to meet local alumni. The reception will take place in the Cannon House Building, Room 402. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Brigid Hasson.


Philip Graham Ryken