A Federal Court has ruled in favor of two Christian colleges in their lawsuit against the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring employer-sponsored health insurance plans to provide access to contraceptives. The schools, Dordt College, in Iowa, and Cornerstone University, in Michigan, had alleged that the HHS mandate is in direct violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit stated that the mandate prevented employers from complying with imperatives that they believe had been decreed by God. The Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the two schools, stated that Christian schools should be free to operate according to their own beliefs, and should not be required to abide by the HHS mandate.
Religious colleges and religious non-profit organizations across the country have filed similar lawsuits against the mandate. To date, some 22 injunctions have been granted to these groups, which may be taken as proof that the U.S. Courts realize that this mandate should not apply to organizations, whatever they may be, which hold to strict religious principles that guide their day-to-day operation. However, the University of Notre Dame and Wyoming Catholic College have been denied injunctions.
While the number of injunctions which have been granted is promising, the fact that religious-based schools, religious groups, and religious employers must file for an injunction and risk being denied or forced to pay fines demonstrates that the fight for Religious Freedom is far from over. Until an employer can freely choose to opt-out of the HHS mandate based on their religious principles, the lawsuits and appeals will continue to be filed. But one day, the U.S. Government will come to realize that it will be easier to follow the Constitution and allow employers to opt-out, rather than continue to expend money on fighting the lawsuits that continue to be filed. Once the Government realizes that this mandate is a direct violation of the First Amendment Rights of employers and organizations across the country, maybe they will work to resolve the issue and the granting of injunctions on a case-by-case basis will turn into a revision of the mandate, allowing any employer or group to not be subject to the mandate based on their religious principles.