Wheaton College Sues over HHS Mandate
Leading Evangelical Institution Joins The Catholic University of America to Preserve Religious Freedom
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Wheaton College (Ill.), a leading evangelical liberal arts institution, filed a lawsuit 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.
“This mandate is not just a Catholic issue—it threatens people of all faiths,” says Kyle Duncan, General Counsel, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “Wheaton’s historic decision to join the fight alongside a Catholic institution shows the broad consensus that the mandate endangers everyone’s religious liberty.”
Wheaton’s religious convictions prevent it from providing its employees with access to abortion-causing drugs. The college’s lawsuit acts to preserve its religious liberty and the right to carry out its mission free from government coercion.
“Wheaton College and other distinctively Christian institutions are faced with a clear and present threat to our religious liberty,” says Wheaton College President Dr. Philip Ryken. “Our first president, the abolitionist Jonathan Blanchard, believed it was imperative to act in defense of freedom. In bringing this suit, we act in defense of freedom again.”
“As the president of the national university of the Catholic Church, I am happy to express solidarity with our evangelical brothers and sisters from Wheaton College as they challenge the HHS mandate. Wheaton’s lawsuit is another sign of how troubling many people of faith find the government’s efforts to chip away at our first freedom,” added Catholic University President John Garvey.
There are now 24 separate lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate, which is a regulation under the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”). Catholic University filed suit on May 21, 2012. These HHS challenges were not affected by the Supreme Court’s June 28th ruling on the constitutionality of the “individual mandate.”
The Becket Fund led the charge against the unconstitutional HHS mandate, and along with Wheaton represents: Belmont Abbey College, Colorado Christian University, the Eternal Word Television Network, and Ave Maria University.
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 are recognized as experts in the field of church-state law, and they 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.”
For more information, or to arrange an interview with one of the attorneys, please contact Emily Hardman, Communications Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202.349.7224.
(Photo: 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. Photo credit, Ed Pfueller/The Catholic University of America.)
Becket Fund’s Complaint (July 18, 2012)
AUDIO: Becket Fund Press Conference Call (July 18, 2012)