Ave Maria University, the Catholic college in Florida, is filing suit over the Health and Human Services Department mandate that would require them to provide contraception coverage for their employees, the college announced today, charging the Obama administration with violating their religious freedom.
The Becket Fund, a non-profit religious legal organization, is handling the lawsuit on behalf of Ave Maria. It’s the fourth such lawsuit the Fund has been responsible for — the first three were for Catholic TV network EWTN; Belmont Abbey College, a Catholic college in North Carolina; and evangelical Colorado Christian University.
The Department of Justice has asked a federal court to dismiss the suit filed on behalf of Belmont Abbey College.
In a press release, the president of Ave Maria Jim Towey says, “The federal government has no right to coerce the University into funding contraceptive services that include abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization, in the health plan we offer our employees.”
“We are prepared to discontinue our health plan and pay the $2,000 per
employee, per year fine rather than comply with an unjust, immoral mandate in
violation of our rights of conscience,” Towey continues in the release.
Two representatives of the Becket Fund and Jim Towey will hold a conference call with press to elaborate on the lawsuit at 11 a.m. today.
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I read something yesterday where this type of decision has been to the courts before. From what I understand, the precedence seems to be that if an action is somehow discriminating or is punitive against a particular religion or religious practice, that particular law will be struck down. If it is a law that is not meant to do with religion at all and happens to interfere with religious practices, the law usually stands. The courts seem to make a distinction between laws which target religions in particular versus those that religions may not like but are simply part of living in a society. That’s what I got out of my reading anyway.