Becket Fund Fires Back at Administration’s Attempt to Dismiss HHS Mandate Lawsuit

Image: Becket Fund Fires Back at Administration’s Attempt to Dismiss HHS Mandate Lawsuit

Demands Vindication of Client’s First Amendment Rights 

Washington, DC –  Last night, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed an Opposition to Motion to Dismiss, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, pushing back on the Administration’s request to dismiss Belmont Abbey College v. Sebelius, one of four legal challenges by the Becket Fund to the Administration’s HHS mandate.

The Administration moved to dismiss the Belmont Abbey case arguing that the “promises” and “accommodations” made in a series of announcements earlier this year will take care of any legal issues in the future.  However, the mandate that requires almost all employers to provide and pay for abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization—regardless of moral or religious objections to such services—remains unchanged.   

HHS mandate before Administration’s “accommodations”

HHS mandate after Administration’s “accommodations”

“require coverage, without cost sharing, for “[a]ll Food and Drug Administration [(FDA)] approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures” “require coverage, without cost sharing, for “[a]ll Food and Drug Administration [(FDA)] approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures” 

“The Administration continues to believe that it can’t be held legally responsible for the illegal abortion-drug mandate because it intends to create yet another mandate on insurance companies at some unspecified date in the future,” said Hannah Smith, Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.  “The abortion-drug mandate is a final rule that is ready to be adjudicated now.  Belmont Abbey’s First Amendment rights are being trampled on, and the court must consider the law as it is, not how the Administration promises it to be.”

The Opposition reads in part: “the law is clear that a mere delay in enforcement is not grounds for prohibiting judicial review.  And promises of future rulemaking cannot thwart federal court jurisdiction to review a rule that is already final and binding, particularly where—as here—the possible future rules being contemplated would not resolve the underlying conflict.  For these reasons, and as set forth more fully below, the Court should reject Defendants’ standing and ripeness arguments and deny their motion to dismiss.”

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 against the federal government at the U.S. Supreme Court in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is the first and leading law firm to legally challenge the Obama Administration’s mandate.  

 For more information, or to arrange an interview with one of the attorneys, please contact Emily Hardman, Communications Director, at ehardman@becketfund.org or call 202.349.7224.

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Additional Information:

Becket Fund’s HHS Resource Page

Becket Fund’s Response to Motion to Dismiss