Another Christian college has been exempted from the nation’s healthcare laws.
Louisiana College in Pineville filed suit in 2012 over the healthcare mandate’s requirements regarding abortion-inducing drugs. The Alliance Defending Freedom brought the suit on the school’s behalf.
“This is bigger than a preliminary injunction — they already had won that,” said Focus on the Family Judicial Analyst Bruce Hausknecht. “This is a decision ‘on the merits’ of the college’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act claim, which they won at the district court level. But this is big because it’s apparently the first such decision in either the nonprofit or for-profit cases that actually decides the substantive issue — not just the temporary reprieve.”
The Department of Justice tried to get the case initially dismissed but it’s now likely in light of the recent Supreme Court decision the case would not be appealed by federal prosecutors.
So far, 56 injunctions against the law have been put in place by various federal judges.
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a Christian college is not required to cover emergency contraceptives it believes causes abortions.
The court ruled 6-3 to allow Wheaton College temporary relief from the birth control mandate while the case makes it’s way through the lower courts. The court’s three liberal women justices objected to the injunction, saying that a Christian school should be forced to provide abortion-inducing drugs.
The school had been required under the health care mandate to sign forms allowing a third party to provide the abortion drugs. The school says that permitting someone else to provide the service inherently makes them complicit in allow the abortion drugs to be given to end the lives of babies.
Justice Sonya Sotomayor, writing for the three liberal justices in their dissent, said making Christians pay for abortions is not a “substantial” burden on their religious beliefs.
“Let me be absolutely clear: I do not doubt that Wheaton genuinely believes that signing the self-certification form is contrary to its religious beliefs. But thinking one’s religious beliefs are substantially burdened — no matter how sincere or genuine that belief may be — does not make it so,” she wrote.
A federal court has ruled the Department of Health and Human Services cannot enforce the birth control mandate on two Christian colleges.
The court ruled Dordt College in Iowa and Cornerstone University in Michigan are exempt from the mandate while their appeals work their way through the federal court system.
U.S. District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett said in his ruling that to impose the mandate would likely cause “irreparable harm” to the colleges because it would be “to the detriment of their religious exercise.” He said the colleges are likely to succeed in their cases on the merits and that if the courts rule against the colleges the worst that can happen is that it would take a few more months to implement the policy.
Judge Bennett said that he is also delaying a ruling in the case because of the similar cases before the Supreme Court with Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods. He said the decision of the court will likely have a direct impact on the case and his ruling.
A ruling from the court is expected later this summer.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, who is defending the colleges, said the decision was sound because Christian colleges should have the right to behave according to their religious convictions.