Wheaton College v. Sebelius
"For Christ and His Kindgom"
Founded by prominent abolitionist Jonathan Blanchard, Wheaton’s history is marked by the stories of students and alumni whose faith drives them to affect the church and society for good.
At the foot of the Thomas Jefferson memorial, LaTonya Taylor (Wheaton), President John Garvey (CUA), President Philip Ryken (Wheaton), President Bill Mumma (Becket Fund), and Kristina Arriaga (Becket Fund) stand in solidarity for religious freedom.
Wheaton College (Wheaton, Ill.) is an explicitly Christian, academically rigorous liberal arts college and graduate school noted for its consistent ranking among the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Wheaton College’s mission is to “serve Jesus Christ and advance His Kingdom through excellence in liberal arts and graduate programs that educate the whole person to build the church and benefit society worldwide.” This mission expresses Wheaton’s commitment to do all things “For Christ and His Kingdom.”
Founded in 1860 by the prominent abolitionist Jonathan Blanchard, Wheaton’s history is marked by the stories of students and alumni whose faith drives them to affect the church and society for good.
The HHS mandate requiring the College to provide insurance coverage for abortifacient drugs forces Wheaton to either violate its religious convictions or to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines annually. The concerns Wheaton College communicated about these regulations through letters to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services did not result in a solution that respects the college’s freedom of conscience. That is why on July 18, 2012, on the heels of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, Wheaton College filed suit in an effort to defend its constitutional freedom to carry out its mission in a way consistent with its religious principles.
Wheaton College is pervasively Christian. Its students, faculty, and staff commit to a Community Covenant that affirms “the God-given worth of human beings, from conception to death.” The use of contraceptives to induce early-term abortions violates this belief.
In a historically unprecedented event, Wheaton joined with The Catholic University of America united in defense of the religious liberty of all faiths.
On August, 24th, in direct response to a lawsuit challenging the HHS mandate brought by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty on behalf of Wheaton College, the federal government has rewritten its one-year “safe harbor” to include Wheaton, giving the prominent evangelical institution until August, 2013, before being forced to comply with the mandate or face crippling fines. As a result of the government’s concession a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed Wheaton College’s lawsuit as premature.
On December 18, 2012 the D.C. Circuit Court of appeals handed an intermediate victory to the religious colleges when they commanded HHS to act quickly to fix the HHS Mandate.
Wheaton College’s original lawsuit was delayed for over a year by the government’s promise of a religious accommodation, but the government still insists that Wheaton College is not a “religious employer” and therefore ineligible for a religious exemption. On December 13, 2013, the Becket Fund refiled its lawsuit on Wheaton’s behalf.
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- Media Essentials
- Press Releases
- Legal Documents
- In the news
- Video and Images
- Wheaton College Challenges Controversial HHS Mandate – BF (December 13, 2013)
- Federal Appeals Court Hands Victory to Religious Colleges, Commands HHS to Act Quickly to Fix Contraception Mandate - BF (December 18, 2012)
- Appeal to DC Circuit: Christian Colleges “Suffering Present Harm” (October 5, 2012)
- Court Grants Expedited Appeal (September 20, 2012)
- Wheaton College Sues Over HHS Mandate (July 18, 2012)
- Wheaton College Seeks Emergency Relief Against HHS Mandate (August 1, 2012)
- Administation Rewrites ‘Safe Harbor,’ Dodges Defense of HHS Mandate in Court (August 24, 2012)
- Wheaton College Appeals Dismissal of HHS Lawsuit (August 24, 2012)
Top Legal Docs:
- Complaint (December 13, 2013)
- Complaint (December 13, 2013)
- Comments on the NPRM (April 8, 2013)
- D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Order (December 18, 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)
- Granted Motion of Expedited Appeal – US Court of Appeals, DC Circuit (September 20, 2012)
- Briefing Schedule – US Court of Appeals, DC Circuit (September 20, 2012)
- Becket Fund’s Notice of Appeal (August 29, 2012)
- Judge Huvelle’s Opinion on Motion to Dismiss (August 24, 2012)
- DOJ Reply in Support of Motion to Dismiss (August 20, 2012)
- Becket Fund Opposition to Motion to Dismiss (August 16, 2012)
- Becket Fund’s Memorandum in Support for Preliminary Injunction (August 1, 2012)
- Becket Fund’s Complaint (July 18, 2012)
- Declaration of Philip Ryken
- Declaration of Stanton Jones
Amicus Briefs Filed in Support of Wheaton and Belmont Abbey Colleges
- 13 States (Texas, Nebraska, Michigan, Indiana, Florida, Oklahoma, Alabama, Ohio, Georgia, Virginia, Colorado, South Carolina, and Idaho)
- The Catholic University of America, The Catholic Archbishop of Washington, D.C., and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
- Women Speak for Themselves
- The Cato Institute, the American Civil Rights Union, and the Chapman University Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence
- The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Catholic Medical Association, The National Catholic Bioethics Center, Physicians for Life, and the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses
- Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, Patrick Henry College, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic of the Anglican Church in North America, Queens Federation of Churches, National Association of Evangelicals, Association of Christian Schools International, Christian Medical Association, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, Prison Fellowship Ministries, Association of Rescue Gospel Missions and Christian Legal Society
- Eagle Forum Education and Legal Defense Fund
- The American Center for Law and Justice, and Regent University
- Alliance Defending Freedom–Universities and Businesses
Religious schools claim ‘major victory’ after ruling on contraception mandate, Fox News (12-19-2012)
Obama must rewrite contraception mandate to accommodate religious liberty, Washington Examiner (12-19-2012)
Federal court to hear appeal on Belmont Abbey College’s HHS lawsuit, Catholic News Herald (11-9-2012)
Contraception Mandate’s ‘Safe Harbor’ Not Safe, Appeals Court Told, The Christian Post (10-6-2012)
HHS revises mandate third time; foes say it misses the point, Catholic News Agency (8-28-2012)
Obama Administration Revises ‘Safe Harbor’ Rule, Citizen Link (8-27-2012)
Wheaton College lawsuit dismissed, Chicago Tribune (8-27-2012)
Contraception fight not just ‘a Catholic thing, USA Today (8-21-2012)
Wheaton College Asks for Emergency Help from Court on Mandate, National Review Online (8-1-12)
Q & A: Philip Ryken on Wheaton’s Contraception Mandate Lawsuit: ‘A Last Resort’, Christianity Today (7-18-12)
School Tries New Tack in Contraceptive Fight, Wall Street Journal (7-18-12)
Contraception mandate unites Protestants and Catholics in new lawsuit, Washington Examiner (7-18-12)
Wheaton College joins lawsuit over health care requirements, Chicago Tribune (7-18-12)
Ryken and Garvey: An Evangelical-Catholic Stand on Liberty, Wall Street Journal (7-18-12)
TV Dr. Ryken, President of Wheaton College, on FOX News (7-18-12)