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Court Allows Catholic Diocese’s Lawsuit to Proceed Against the HHS Mandate

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There are now forty-four lawsuits challenging the HHS Mandate, which requires most employers, under pain of penalty, to pay for employee health insurance that covers contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and related education and counseling.

The American Center for Law & Justice is involved in close to half of those cases: to date we have filed four lawsuits against the Mandate and have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the plaintiffs in thirteen other cases.

One of those friend-of-the-court briefs was filed this past summer in support of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth.

Soon after the Diocese filed its lawsuit, the federal government asked the trial court to dismiss the case, claiming the Diocese was not currently being injured by the Mandate.

We filed a friend-of-the-court brief, along with 79 Members of Congress, opposing the government’s motion.

We argued that the trial court should deny the government’s motion and allow the case to proceed to a final resolution on the merits of the Diocese’s claims against the Mandate.

We explained that the Diocese is being injured now by the Mandate because it must rearrange its fiscal affairs to prepare to pay significant annual penalties if it does not comply with the Mandate.

Yesterday, January 31, the trial court denied the government’s motion.

The court noted that “a prompt ruling on the merits of the Diocese’s claims should add clarity to the constitutional issues presented by the Mandate . . . [whereas] a decision to withhold consideration of the Mandate would likely result in hardship to the Diocese, given that the Diocese must now decide whether to (a) implement substantial changes to its group health plans to achieve compliance with the Mandate or (b) budget for the imposition of significant fines for non-compliance.”

We are pleased that this case will continue to a final resolution on the merits of the Diocese’s claims. We are hopeful that the trial court will determine that the Mandate violates the constitutional and statutory rights of the Diocese.

Such a ruling would prevent the Diocese from having to face the choice of complying with the Mandate (and thereby violating its Catholic beliefs) or paying significant annual penalties to the government (in order to stay true to its Catholic beliefs).

We will continue to keep you posted on our efforts to invalidate the HHS mandate.

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