Howard Friedman, Religion Clause
Yesterday [July 18, 2012] yet another lawsuit was filed challenging on religious liberty and other grounds the mandate issued under the Affordable Care Act requiring health insurance policies to cover contraceptive services (as well as education and counseling of women with reproductive capacity). This time the suit was filed by Wheaton College, an evangelical Christian liberal arts college in Illinois. The suit was filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C. where a separate suit brought by Catholic University of America and four other Catholic institutions is already pending. In announcing the filing of yesterday’s lawsuit — the 24th separate suit challenging the mandate (list of lawsuits) — the Becket Fund said that this “marks the first-ever partnership between Catholic and evangelical institutions to oppose the same regulation in the same court.” The complaint (full text) in Wheaton College v. Sebelius, (D DC, filed 7/18/2012) alleges in part:
2… Wheaton’s religious beliefs forbid it from participating in, providing access to, paying for, training others to engage in, or otherwise supporting abortion….. 3. With full knowledge of these beliefs, the government issued an administrative rule… that runs roughshod over Wheaton’s religious beliefs… by forcing it to provide health insurance coverage for abortifacient drugs and related education and counseling.
4. The government’s Mandate unconstitutionally coerces Wheaton to violate its deeply-held religious beliefs under threat of heavy fines and penalties. The Mandate also forces Wheaton to facilitate government-dictated speech that is incompatible with its own speech and religious teachings. Having to pay a penalty to the taxing authorities for the privilege of practicing one’s religion or controlling one’s own speech is un-American, unprecedented, and flagrantly unconstitutional.
Christianity Today reports on yesterday’s lawsuit. [Thanks to Lael Weinberger for the lead.]