WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. Supreme Court Jan. 29 announced that it will hear oral arguments March 23 in seven pending appeals in lawsuits brought by several Catholic and other faith-based entities against the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate.
Among the plaintiffs are the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Archdiocese of Washington, the Pittsburgh and Erie dioceses, Priests for Life, Southern Nazarene University and Texas Baptist University.
The cases are being referred to collectively as Zubik v. Burwell. Bishop David A. Zubik heads the Diocese of Pittsburgh and Sylvia Mathews Burwell is the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Under the federal Affordable Care Act, most employers, including religious ones, are required to cover employees’ artificial birth control, sterilization and abortifacients, even if employers are morally opposed to such coverage.
In all of the cases to be argued before the high court in March, appellate courts in various jurisdictions sided with the Obama administration. The rulings said the religious entities’ freedom of religion was not burdened by having to comply with the mandate as they have argued, because the federal government has in place an accommodation, or “work around,” for a third party to provide the contested coverage.
These employers must notify HHS in writing of their religious objections. Then HHS or the Department of Labor in turn tells insurers and third-party administrators that they must cover the services at no charge to employees.
But the religious groups object to that third-party notification, saying they still would be complicit in supporting practices they oppose.
While their appeals worked their way to the high court, the government has not been able to force the groups to comply with the mandate or face daily fines for noncompliance.
Only those religious employers that meet narrow criteria set by the Obama administration are exempt from the mandate. Houses of worship are exempt, for example, but most Catholic and other religious employers are not.
Help keep Catholic media free, support CatholicPhilly.com
You may have noticed “pay walls” greeting you when you visit the websites of newspapers and magazines, both large and small. These mechanisms allow you to read a few articles for free before you’ve got to pay an annual fee if you want to see more.
You won’t find a pay wall on CatholicPhilly.com because we’re more than a news organization. We’re informing, inspiring and forming readers in the Catholic faith every day through the news, features and commentaries that we post on this site and share across social media.
It costs money to provide high-quality coverage of the local Catholic communities we primarily serve, while also distributing national and world news of interest to Catholics, plus the orthodox teachings of the Catholic faith.
Help us in this mission by making a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
or by credit card: