Like making a Jewish school hire a vendor to serve non-Kosher food

Thomas Aquinas College attorneys rebut HHS Mandate arguments in SCOTUS filing
Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California. (from thomasaquinas.edu)

Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California. (from thomasaquinas.edu)

The following is an August 28 press release from Thomas Aquinas College, a Catholic school offering a 4-year classical curriculum in Santa Paula, California:

SANTA PAULA — As part of their ongoing effort to bring Thomas Aquinas College’s case against the federal HHS Mandate before the U.S. the Supreme Court, the College’s attorneys filed a reply brief on August 25 refuting the government’s most recent arguments.

The brief outlines the reasons why the Court should consider this important religious-freedom case, and why the College and its co-plaintiffs would be likely to prevail. Following up on the College’s June 25 petition for a writ of certiorari, the brief asks the Court to resolve several conflicting lower-court rulings about whether religious institutions should be exempt from federal requirements that compel them to facilitate free contraceptive, abortifacient, and sterilization coverage for their employees.

In the filing, attorneys from the Jones Day Law Firm — which represents Thomas Aquinas College, The Catholic University of America and the Archdiocese of Washington — have offered a forceful rebuttal to the government’s claim that Catholic organizations’ opposition to the Mandate is “a quibble over a ‘bit of paperwork.’” For Catholic institutions, explains the brief, serious moral issues are at stake:

“As this Court has recognized, the context and consequences of an action are obviously relevant to whether that action is morally objectionable. Thus, even “an act that is innocent in itself” may become objectionable depending on “the circumstances.” Hobby Lobby, 134 S. Ct. at 2778. For example, giving a neighbor a ride to the bank may not be morally problematic — unless one knows the neighbor intends to rob that bank. A Jewish school may not object to hiring a vendor to serve lunch to its students — unless the vendor was required to serve non-Kosher food. The same is true here. Petitioners have no inherent objection to hiring an insurance company or TPA [third-party administrator]. But they strongly object to hiring an insurance company or TPA that will provide abortifacient and contraceptive coverage to their plan beneficiaries.”

Appealing to the nation’s highest court is the latest step in a legal effort that began nearly two years ago. The College originally filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on September 20, 2013, and prevailed, receiving a permanent injunction from the HHS mandate. The U.S. Government, however, appealed that decision, and on November 14, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia granted the Government’s appeal, removing the injunction. At that time, the College filed a motion (PDF) for an en banc hearing of the case before the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Earlier this year a majority of the court denied the motion. The College quickly requested and received an emergency stay in the matter, which effectively shields it from the Mandate until the Supreme Court rules on the merits of the case.

The Court is expected to consider the petition at its September 28 weekly conference and shortly thereafter issue its ruling on whether it will review the lower court’s decision. Until then, the stay that temporarily exempts the college from the Mandate will remain in place.

“We are quite pleased with our attorneys’ latest filing, and we are hopeful that our case will get a favorable hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court,” says Thomas Aquinas College President Michael F. McLean. “While the justices consider our petition, we ask that friends of the College and all those who value religious liberty please pray for a favorable outcome.

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  1. Obama and his minions are obsessed with pushing around Christians, God bless these Catholic institutions for standing up for themselves! 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    Excellent comparison!
    If we wouldn’t force Jews and Muslims to sell pork, we shouldn’t force Catholics to link up with stuff that violates our religious principles!!

  3. St. Christopher says:

    Satan is at work here, Catholic Reader. Like seeing a great white shark, while you are in a safety cage, the social fabric of society is expressly, and openly, under attack from the Devil.

    It is unlikely that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of a Catholic or religious entity, with anything that operates to conclusively limit the government in suppressing religion. Still, with God, anything is possible so pray, and assist these brave warriors to fight demons. America is no longer the country favored by God.

  4. Even if TAC wins the individual Catholic does not. While these law suits are necessary the end result will be to limit religious rights to institutions and leave individuals out in the cold. The state will have established that only some of its institutions have this right if they are directly doing the churches work, but will have effectively removed the faithful Catholic from being the leaven to the world in his daily life in society.

  5. Steve Seitz says:

    TAC is a superior school in hard philosophical thought. I would expect only the best arguments from their lawyers. 🙂

  6. This argument falls flat.

    TAC is required to provide third party medical coverage as part of a compensation package; the same coverage any employer would provide. It is not compelling or encouraging employees to engage in anything it considers objectionable.

    If the employees do procure contraception or abortions that are not covered, they would pay cash, and substitute one form of compensation from TAC for another. They would probably do that anyway to avoid potential access of medical records.

  7. … allowing an employer to opt out of what the law considers a medical procedure, even for religious reasons, potentially creates exemptions for any medical procedure. Jehovah’s Witnesses and blood transfusions, Scientologists and psychiatry, modern medicine is rejected entirely by some charismatic sects in favor of faith healing, New Agers in favor of homeopathic medicine. Can they impose that on their employees?

    If the issue is that all medical plans cover abortion and contraception, changing that in the law would be the remedy, not granting exceptions on religious grounds, which by legal standards can be virtually anything.

    • Don’t you find it a little odd M. that women can decide to have their unborn babies murdered but a Jehova Witness can’t decide wether to have their children have infusions or a woman that doesn’t want abortive tissue inoculations can’t have that right? Isn’t it rather a case of the state determining what has always been a citizen’s right to choose? Is it not based on law at all but on the right of the state to enforce people to forgo their rights and religious principles? To me that is true lawlessness and there’s no other word for it than tyranny . The nazis were able to ‘legally’ take away property, rights and human life through the courts. Lawyers have always been the sneaking thieves and enemies of a republic.

    • Steve Seitz says:

      M Deren,
      There’s a fundamental distinction between opting out of life saving medical treatment (e.g. Jehovah’s Witnesses) and being forced to include insurance into your health plan that is contrary to life. While the culture is in grave turmoil, we haven’t yet gone so far as to philosophically place death at the same level as life.

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