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DC Court Tells Catholic Groups: Submit to HHS Mandate or Pay Massive Fines


PETER JESSERER SMITH

Source:
Nat. Cath. Register
Type:
Media/Opinion
Date:
5/22/2015

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ABSTRACTDC Court Tells Catholic Groups: Submit to HHS Mandate or Pay Massive Fines | Daily News | NCRegister.com Print Edition:  May 17, 2015 Sign-up for our E-letter!   Donate News Blogs Radio Events Resources Advertise Store Subscriptions Make This My Homepage Resources Archives Jobs College Guide Arts & Entertainment Books Commentary Culture of Life Education In Person News Opinion Sunday Guides Travel Vatican Dan Burke Jeanette DeMelo Edward Pentin Mark Shea Matthew Warner Jimmy Akin Matthew Archbold Joan Frawley Desmond Simcha Fisher Tito Edwards Jennifer Fulwiler Steven D. Greydanus Tom Wehner Our Latest Show About the Show About the Register Donate Subscribe Stations Schedule Other EWTN Shows Advertising Overview Policies & Guidelines Digital Ad Specs Print Ad Specs Editorial Calendar & Due Dates Order Web Ad Subscribe Discounted Bulk Subscriptions Give a Gift Subscription Renew Your Subscription Renew Your Gift Subscription Change of Address Missed Issues Payments Account Status General Customer Service Print Article | Email Article | Write To Us Daily News Daily News DC Court Tells Catholic Groups: Submit to HHS Mandate or Pay Massive Fines (4819) The Archdiocese of Washington and Priests for Life suffered a legal setback at the D.C. Court of Appeals that puts their case on a path to the U.S. Supreme Court. Tweet by PETER JESSERER SMITH 05/22/2015 Comment Seal of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit – Wikimedia Commons WASHINGTON — A majority of judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals this week rejected a request from the Archdiocese of Washington and Priests for Life to have the full court review their challenge to the Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate. According to the archdiocese and Priests for Life, the mandate as it currently applies forces them to be complicit in the provision of contraceptive services, including abortifacient drugs that seriously violate their Catholic beliefs. “We concluded that the regulation challenged in this case does not, as a matter of law or fact, give plaintiffs’ conduct the contraception-facilitating effect of which they complain,” stated the majority ruling, written by Judge Nina Pillard, in denying relief from the mandate under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The 6-3 ruling was followed by two strenuous dissents , one from Judge Janice Rodgers Brown, joined by Judge Karen Henderson, and one form Judge Brett Kavanaugh, which agreed with the plaintiffs’ contention that the federal government’s “accommodation” still violates the religious liberty of the Catholic organizations. “Make no mistake: The harm plaintiffs complain of — and the harm this court therefore is called to assess — is from their inability to conform their own actions and inactions to their religious beliefs without facing massive penalties from the government,” Brown’s dissent read. In a May 21 statement , the Archdiocese of Washington stated that it was “disappointed” the appeals court denied the petition for a full review of the case. The archdiocese and Priests for Life filed the petition with the court after a three-judge panel ruled the HHS mandate did not violate the rights of religious objectors. The archdiocese added that it would very likely be appealing the “erroneous” decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. “[W]e remain hopeful that final disposition of this case will vindicate religious freedom and rights of conscience,” it stated. “The archdiocese and its affiliates remain committed and determined to serve others freely in accordance with the Catholic faith. It is precisely because of this faith that local Catholic entities are the  largest nongovernmental provider of social services  in this region.” Father Frank Pavone, president of Priests for Life, said in a statement provided to the Register that his organization was already preparing to challenge the ruling at the Supreme Court and would request in the next few days a stay of the mandate for the duration of the case. "We look forward to going to the highest court in the land with arguments that we know are valid, from both a moral and legal standpoint,” he said. We pray that they will accept the case. But should the court ultimately refuse to hear the case or ultimately rule that we need to obey the mandate, let me be crystal clear today, as I have been in the past: We will obey God rather than men." Robert Muise, co-founder and senior counsel for the American Freedom Law Center , which is representing Priests for Life, said in a statement that getting the entire court to review the case is “a long shot,” but added, “the fact that we have three dissenting judges will greatly assist our efforts to get the Supreme Court to review this very important religious-freedom case.” &n.......