Religious Organizations v. HHS Mandate before D.C. Circuit Court, December 14, 2012

Image: Religious Organizations v. HHS Mandate before D.C. Circuit Court,  December 14, 2012

Belmont Abbey and Wheaton College to argue that “safe-harbor” provides inadequate protection for religious liberty

For Immediate Release: December 10, 2012
Media Contact: Emily Hardman, 202.349.7224,

WASHINGTON, DC – On December 14, 2012, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will be the first appeals court to consider whether the government’s one-year ‘safe-harbor’ adequately protects religious employers like Belmont Abbey College and Wheaton College from the abortion-drug mandate which forces the Catholic and Evangelical institutions to violate their deeply held religious beliefs or pay millions in fines each year.

Becket Fund attorneys will be available immediately following the hearing for comment.

  • WHAT:        
    • Oral arguments before D.C. Circuit Court on HHS Mandate before Circuit Judges Garland, Griffith, and Senior Circuit Judge Randolph
  • WHO:
    • Kyle Duncan, General Counsel, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
  • WHERE:
    • U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit
    • (Courtroom 31, 5th Floor)
    • 333 Constitution Avenue NW
    • Washington, D.C. 20001

After receiving a firestorm of opposition to the HHS mandate, the government created the ‘safe-harbor’ to delay enforcement against non-profit religious organizations while the government “considered” some future “accommodation,” leading two lower courts to dismiss Belmont Abbey and Wheaton College’s lawsuits as premature.

Last Wednesday, however, a federal judge in New York became the first to rule against the government on this issue holding that the “safe harbor” and promised “accommodation” were inadequate to protect religious organizations from suffering harm. The court remarked that, “There is no ‘Trust us changes are coming’ clause in the Constitution.”

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty  is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions—from Anglicans to Zoroastrians. For 18 years its attorneys have been recognized as experts in the field of church-state law. The Becket Fund recently won a 9-0 victory 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

Belmont Abbey College Case Page

Wheaton College Case Page

HHS Information CentralLearn more about all 40 challenges to the HHS mandate


Legal Documents:

Notice of Hearing before D.C. CircuitDecember 14, 2012

Becket Fund’s Reply Brief – D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals (November 19, 2012)

DOJ’s Brief in Wheaton/BAC – D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals (November 5, 2012)

Becket Fund’s Opening Appeal Brief – D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals (October 5, 2012)