Catholic dioceses, non-profits in PA win injunction against HHS contraception mandate

posted at 12:41 pm on November 22, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

With all of the practical ObamaCare disasters in the news the last few weeks, we need to still keep an eye on the threat it represents to religious liberty and free expression.  Thankfully, yet another federal court has recognized those dangers inherent in the HHS contraception mandate issued as part of the regulatory scheme implementing the Affordable Care Act:

The right of church-related organizations to keep a clear conscience trumps the federal government’s desire to improve access to contraceptives, a federal judge ruled Thursday in a preliminary decision that could set the tone in a legal fight of national scope.

U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab granted an injunction sought by the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, Diocese of Erie and several affiliated nonprofit groups that do not want their insurance administrators to provide what they call “preventive services” coverage.

The injunction allows them to continue to offer insurance that doesn’t include contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs while litigation continues. Without the injunction, the insurance administrators for the organizations — though not the dioceses themselves — would have had to start providing the coverage Jan. 1.

This is not just a philosophical victory, either.  An adverse ruling could have cost Catholic Charities $2 million a year in fines, and forced the venerable institution to start laying off workers as a result:

“We knew there would be at least a $2 million hit annually if there wasn’t some protection from the court,” said Susan Rauscher, executive director of Catholic Charities. She said she was putting together contingency plans to “keep as many employees employed as we could.”

Judge Schwab focused on the real impact of the HHS argument that the government could force religious organizations to violate their own doctrines if they employed and/or served the communities as a whole.  To do so, Schwab wrote, would be to sever the Catholic Church from its service mission and to define religious expression as only that activity which takes place inside a church, temple, or synagogue:

The judge wrote in his 65-page opinion that he was ruling on whether “the Government will be permitted to sever the Catholic Church into two parts (i.e., worship and faith, and ‘good works’) — in other words, whether the Government will be successful in restricting the Right to the Free Exercise of Religion as set forth in the First Amendment to a Right to Worship only.”

The judge wrote that he “is constrained to understand why religious employers such as Catholic Charities and Prince of Peace Center — which were born from the same religious faith, and premised upon the same religious tenets and principles, and operate as extensions and embodiments of the Church, but are not subsidiaries of a parent corporation — would not be treated the same as the Church itself with respect to the free exercise of that religion.”

Amazingly, the American Civil Liberties Union is arguing the opposite — that people with religious conviction don’t have civil rights to free expression of their religious beliefs outside of those churches.  They will participate in the appeal of this ruling, but the real action will come from the Supreme Court next week.  As Rich Lord reports for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the justices will decide whether to hear appeals on four cases involving for-profit employers who have religious objections to the mandate.  The decisions on whether to hear them will send a big signal to lower courts on just how they see the First Amendment protection of religious expression, and whether they agree with the Obama administration and the ACLU that it only protects a “freedom to worship” rather than a freedom to live one’s faith.

Stay tuned.


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For now

Schadenfreude on November 22, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Somewhat OT.

Speaking of religious freedom check out this Megan Kelly clip.

http://therightscoop.com/megyn-kelly-interviews-humanist-who-forced-schools-to-drop-christmas-toy-drive/

MontanaMmmm on November 22, 2013 at 12:48 PM

I have religious objections against this too. Where do I sign up to sign out?

Akzed on November 22, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Shrug. Seems like an odd hill to fight on, but anything that locks up the gears is fine by me.

ElectricPhase on November 22, 2013 at 12:57 PM

Akzed on November 22, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Go Amish or Muslim.

Schadenfreude on November 22, 2013 at 12:58 PM

To do so, Schwab wrote, would be to sever the Catholic Church from its service mission and to define religious expression as only that activity which takes place inside a church, temple, or synagogue.

To the secular Left, that’s a feature, not a bug. Thou shalt not have any gods before the Almighty Federal Government, at least when said Almighty Federal Government is run by the Democrats.

JimLennon on November 22, 2013 at 1:00 PM

Good start. An overreaching judicial error here could splinter the country in very real and dangerous ways. It’s the divisive Mr. Obama behind another fiasco.

Mason on November 22, 2013 at 1:00 PM

American Civil Liberties Union

Maybe I’m too old school for this but I thought “civil liberties” were those rights which are protected from infringement by a tyrannical government.

blammm on November 22, 2013 at 1:00 PM

They will participate in the appeal of this ruling, but the real action will come from the Supreme Court next week. As Rich Lord reports for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the justices will decide whether to hear appeals on four cases involving for-profit employers who have religious objections to the mandate. The decisions on whether to hear them will send a big signal to lower courts on just how they see the First Amendment protection of religious expression, and whether they agree with the Obama administration and the ACLU that it only protects a “freedom to worship” rather than a freedom to live one’s faith.

It would behoove the justices to come down on the side of the Constitutional Law, isn’t that what they are supposed to uphold?

In this day and age tho, anything is now possible and as I have noted, the Constitution is often ‘swept’ aside for some lobbyists ideals, forget what it means.

Every day any ‘faith’ I may have had in our govt, both sides, is shaken, I don’t know how much more I can take.

I am almost on my last nerve!!

Scrumpy on November 22, 2013 at 1:01 PM

The second Freedom in FDRs 4 Freedoms is “Freedom of Worship”, not freedom of Religion. That progressives are trying to rewrite the first amendment to fit this shouldn’t be any surprise to anyone who has read history.

nobar on November 22, 2013 at 1:01 PM

For now

Schadenfreude on November 22, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Exactly! I’m very happy this happened in my state…BUT…

ToddPA on November 22, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Shrug. Seems like an odd hill to fight on, but anything that locks up the gears is fine by me.

ElectricPhase on November 22, 2013 at 12:57 PM

Not for people of Christian faith.

Bitter Clinger on November 22, 2013 at 1:03 PM

Go Amish or Muslim.

Schadenfreude on November 22, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Perhaps, we as Conservatives or what ever, should come together and form our own ‘Union’ that would give us the power to also avoid, via a religious belief, this debacle…

My 2 cents worth…

Scrumpy on November 22, 2013 at 1:04 PM

I am almost on my last nerve!!

Scrumpy on November 22, 2013 at 1:01 PM

You’re not alone.

Flange on November 22, 2013 at 1:04 PM

Akzed on November 22, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Go Amish or Muslim.

Schadenfreude on November 22, 2013 at 12:58 PM

No like, I object to being lied to and stolen from, and enslaved and all. Where’s my relief?

Akzed on November 22, 2013 at 1:05 PM

nobar on November 22, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Not surprised by anything any US govt does to avoid the Constitution and it’s Laws…

Scrumpy on November 22, 2013 at 1:05 PM

American Civil Liberties Union

Maybe I’m too old school for this but I thought “civil liberties” were those rights which are protected from infringement by a tyrannical government.

blammm on November 22, 2013 at 1:00 PM

The ACLU tends to be more leftist than anything. They will howl for the protection of civil liberties if it involves deviancy but not so much for religious freedom. And it fits here because the ACLU is more concerned that sluts get their free contracetives, not whether the Catholic Church should violate its tenets.

Bitter Clinger on November 22, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Amazingly, the American Civil Liberties Union is arguing the opposite…

You’re amazed that a Communist front group is arguing the opposite?

The ACLU was never about preserving liberty, but reinterpreting the Constitution to conform to a more communitarian norm. How many times has the ACLU ever defended the 2nd Amendment? Where was the ACLU when we were fighting to stop the individual mandate?

NotCoach on November 22, 2013 at 1:08 PM

You’re not alone.

Flange on November 22, 2013 at 1:04 PM

You know how folks react when that happens eh?! ;)

They tend to go off!!

I am fightin’ mad, and anxious and ready to go do somthing besides lament and all the typical things we do to try and bring about a change, just call me when everyone is ready to act!! ;)

Scrumpy on November 22, 2013 at 1:09 PM

Akzed on November 22, 2013 at 1:05 PM

I believe, personally, that we will have to create it for ourselves.

Scrumpy on November 22, 2013 at 1:10 PM

…but the real action will come from the Supreme Court next week…the justices will decide whether to hear appeals on four cases involving for-profit employers who have religious objections to the mandate.

I may be mistaken, but I get the feeling that Hobby Lobby is prepared to “shrug.”

If it happens, I for one will support them.

It will be a hard thing, but may be exactly what is needed to wake people up to the threat this govt poses

questionmark on November 22, 2013 at 1:10 PM

The right of church-related organizations to keep a clear conscience trumps the federal government’s desire to improve access to contraceptives, a federal judge ruled

It boggles the mind that this simple concept has to reach a federal judge.

Fundamental Constitutional Human Right vs. slightly better access to contraceptives (which are already easily available)

smh

mankai on November 22, 2013 at 1:11 PM

Amazingly, the American Civil Liberties Union is arguing the opposite — that people with religious conviction don’t have civil rights to free expression of their religious beliefs outside of those churches.

Lessee here – churches are restricted in what they can say and do in their services and they are totally restricted from holding their convictions outside of their churches. Allll-righty, then.

whatcat on November 22, 2013 at 1:12 PM

OT on a related tanget- the insanity of Obama supporters. The following was actually posted on the WaPo website.

Gee, Kennedy faced exactly the same kind of far-right extremists in Texas telling chillingly similar lies. Our President Obama has to put up with from moron tea baggers now. Let’s hope the Secret Service does a much better job of protecting President Obama from far-right hate than President Kennedy.

There’s still lunatics out here with guns, especially in Texas.

I’m not going to say anything about this nonsense other than to question if a little incompetence in the Secret Service protection would really be all that bad a thing right now.

I’m not advocating anything but just asking. What would be the media narrative today? Would the “Tea Baggers” get the blame the left denied the communists in 1963? Would the gun-grabbers come out in droves and double down on anti-Constitutional activities?

Happy Nomad on November 22, 2013 at 1:15 PM

In some Muslim circles, the use of vaccines made from animal serum is in direct conflict with their Sharia doctrine. In the worst case illustrated lately was medical volunteers in Pakistan being murdered by, I hate to use these words “Muslim extremists” for administering polio vaccine to people there. Muslim extremists are nothing more than observant Muslims of the Koran and Hadith.

I wonder if the Obama regime is prepared go after these “charities”, and suffer the inevitable consequences by the religion of the perpetually offended for the same violations as they are going against Catholics and other Christian groups?

simkeith on November 22, 2013 at 1:15 PM

Lessee here – churches are restricted in what they can say and do in their services and they are totally restricted from holding their convictions outside of their churches. Allll-righty, then.

whatcat on November 22, 2013 at 1:12 PM

It’s what the atheists and other Christ-haters call tolerance.

Happy Nomad on November 22, 2013 at 1:16 PM

I thought Freedom of Religion was a Federal thing.

Under Obama’s Socialism, it has to be fought for in every town, and every beach.

faraway on November 22, 2013 at 1:17 PM

I am fightin’ mad, and anxious and ready to go do somthing besides lament and all the typical things we do to try and bring about a change, just call me when everyone is ready to act!! ;)

Scrumpy on November 22, 2013 at 1:09 PM

I’m starting to get concerned that this debacle is going to let the GOP back in power, but they’ll just act like they always do. People need to go to jail. And lots of them. Unless I hear a politician calling for vigorous investigations and prosecutions of these traitors, I assume the GOP will just rearrange the gravy train and do nothing to stop it. If obozo knew all this was happening and wanted it to happen, he should be tried for treason. Period. Letting him retire to a life a luxury is a travesty of justice.

Flange on November 22, 2013 at 1:19 PM

You know how folks react when that happens eh?! ;)

They tend to go off!!

I am fightin’ mad, and anxious and ready to go do somthing besides lament and all the typical things we do to try and bring about a change, just call me when everyone is ready to act!! ;)

Scrumpy on November 22, 2013 at 1:09 PM

Do you know how many times I’ve thought, when arguing with a liberal about religion, that the only thing keeping me from beating him senseless was my religious beliefs?

ConDem on November 22, 2013 at 1:25 PM

If you’re a Christian, check out Medishare and see if it might be a viable option.

Health care cooperative instead of insurance.

22044 on November 22, 2013 at 1:26 PM

I’m starting to get concerned that this debacle is going to let the GOP back in power, but they’ll just act like they always do.

Flange on November 22, 2013 at 1:19 PM

If they get back in power, I’d be happy if they showed up in January 2015 with a whole phalanx of guillotines in tow. There are many wrong things that need addressing by Congressional oversight in an enviornment spoiling for a fight.

The unfortunate thing is that the surrender weasels are running the show. It is not enough to get the GOP back in power in the Senate. It has to be Tea Party conservatives not worthless RINOs. Because McConnell has no interest in anything but going along to get along with the enemy.

Happy Nomad on November 22, 2013 at 1:26 PM

American Civil Liberties Union

Maybe I’m too old school for this but I thought “civil liberties” were those rights which are protected from infringement by a tyrannical government.

blammm on November 22, 2013 at 1:00 PM

It’s an Orwellian title. The ACLU acronym really means
Anti-Christian Lawyers Union.

Steve Z on November 22, 2013 at 1:28 PM

The picture alone is way cool.

Schadenfreude on November 22, 2013 at 1:30 PM

God Bless Judge Schwab

workingclass artist on November 22, 2013 at 1:31 PM

If you’re a Christian, check out Medishare and see if it might be a viable option.

Health care cooperative instead of insurance.

22044 on November 22, 2013 at 1:26 PM

There are 3 in the category of Christian Health Care Sharing ministries. And now Liberty Health Share is another non-religious, but they have ethical standards, and their members are exempt from Ocrappacare, as well….so now four choices…

hillsoftx on November 22, 2013 at 1:31 PM

God Bless Judge Schwab

workingclass artist on November 22, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Indeed!

ConDem on November 22, 2013 at 1:32 PM

just call me when everyone is ready to act!! ;)

Scrumpy on November 22, 2013 at 1:09 PM

Ditto.

SailorMark on November 22, 2013 at 1:32 PM

I don’t know how narrowly the judge’s decision is defined (maybe someone could help me out here), but couldn’t this be applied to humanists/atheists that file all these frivolous lawsuits against _________ for celebrating/praying/mentioning God? For people of faith, worship isn’t confined to just the walls of the meeting place.

The left demands freedom of worship all the time- worship of big government, worship of Obama, worship of tolerance, worship of anything anti-religious, etc.

It’s about time that people of faith stand together as one to support freedom from interference.

conservablogger on November 22, 2013 at 1:32 PM

Flange on November 22, 2013 at 1:19 PM

There are those within the GOP who would, it appears, like nothing more than what Oboobma is offering, it is all about the money and power…

Scrumpy on November 22, 2013 at 1:33 PM

I’d like to note that the root of this problem, as we through the courts are more and more often trying to split the baby (Biblical reference intended) on matters of individual freedom only comes about because of the increasing intrusiveness of the government. We the federal government to stay within it’s constitutionally defined boundaries, this, and many other issues would never exist!

John_W on November 22, 2013 at 1:35 PM

Do you know how many times I’ve thought, when arguing with a liberal about religion, that the only thing keeping me from beating him senseless was my religious beliefs?

ConDem on November 22, 2013 at 1:25 PM

I hear you!

I am finding it almost impossible to ‘love my enemy’ any longer…
I pray to God to please give me patience, it’s a tough world out there…

Scrumpy on November 22, 2013 at 1:36 PM

65-page opinion!

sadatoni on November 22, 2013 at 1:37 PM

There are 3 in the category of Christian Health Care Sharing ministries. And now Liberty Health Share is another non-religious, but they have ethical standards, and their members are exempt from Ocrappacare, as well….so now four choices…

hillsoftx on November 22, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Excellent. What are the others?

Expecting an announcement any day within the next year that my employer is cancelling our group policy.

22044 on November 22, 2013 at 1:37 PM

…It’s about time that people of faith stand together as one to support freedom from interference.

conservablogger on November 22, 2013 at 1:32 PM

I second that!!

Scrumpy on November 22, 2013 at 1:39 PM

I pray to God to please give me patience, it’s a tough world out there… Scrumpy on November 22, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Never pray for patience!

Akzed on November 22, 2013 at 1:41 PM

Amazingly, the American Civil Liberties Union is arguing the opposite — that people with religious conviction don’t have civil rights to free expression of their religious beliefs outside of those churches.

Leave it to a bunch of atheists to mangle common sense. For a believer, that is a true believer, there is no such thing as “outside of those churches”. What? Are the ACLU goons going to try to argue that you religious rights as a citizen are ended the minute you walk out the church door?

Cleombrotus on November 22, 2013 at 1:44 PM

Never pray for patience!

Akzed on November 22, 2013 at 1:41 PM

What then? My inquiring mind wants to know :)

Scrumpy on November 22, 2013 at 1:52 PM

Happy Nomad on November 22, 2013 at 1:26 PM

I’m tired of these guys not being held accountable. The swamp really needs to be drained. Not in some BS speech like Piglosi, but through criminal prosecution.

There are those within the GOP who would, it appears, like nothing more than what Oboobma is offering, it is all about the money and power…

Scrumpy on November 22, 2013 at 1:33 PM

Way too many of them just want to ride the gravy train.

Flange on November 22, 2013 at 1:52 PM

I hear you!

I am finding it almost impossible to ‘love my enemy’ any longer…
I pray to God to please give me patience, it’s a tough world out there…

Scrumpy on November 22, 2013 at 1:36 PM

I love to beat my enemy!

Jokes aside. You should love your enemy. His opposition gives you the opportunity to become wiser and stronger.

Count me in for action. I’m ready to do some marching.

ConDem on November 22, 2013 at 1:53 PM

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.

Amen.

Yeah patience is what I need to accept the things I cannot change…

Scrumpy on November 22, 2013 at 1:55 PM

ConDem on November 22, 2013 at 1:53 PM

Note, I did say almost impossible!

Scrumpy on November 22, 2013 at 1:56 PM

Note, I did say almost impossible!

Scrumpy on November 22, 2013 at 1:56 PM

;)

In the heat of the moment it is really easy to forget the benefits of an enemy. It would be so easy to let go of it on purpose. Ugh, the cross of having principles.

ConDem on November 22, 2013 at 2:01 PM

The second Freedom in FDRs 4 Freedoms is “Freedom of Worship”, not freedom of Religion. That progressives are trying to rewrite the first amendment to fit this shouldn’t be any surprise to anyone who has read history.

nobar on November 22, 2013 at 1:01 PM

http://www.best-norman-rockwell-art.com/four-freedoms.html

Make sure to note the corresponding Norman Rockwell print for Freedom of Worship.

BuckeyeSam on November 22, 2013 at 2:19 PM

I’d say that the ACLU, King Barack and The Princess of Health Care had better standby for a BIG disappointment.

GarandFan on November 22, 2013 at 2:21 PM

There are two kinds of cases making their way to SCOTUS: those relating to religious organizations and the private-sector cases. Obamacare will lose the cases relating to religious organizations 9-0; Obamacare will lose the private-sector cases 7-2 or 6-3.

BuckeyeSam on November 22, 2013 at 2:22 PM

Amazingly, the American Civil Liberties Union is arguing the opposite

The ACLU fights to protect Americans’ liberties in the same way that the AARP fights to protect the interests of senior citizens.

IOW, both organizations were originally founded with good or even noble motives, but both have morphed over the years into complete and utter frauds, and both are now actively working to undermine the very same interests they claim to support and protect.

AZCoyote on November 22, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Once it reached the SCOTUS, Roberts will consult the penumbras and emanations and discover that since churches distribute food and drink (eucharist meal), they are engaged in commerce and therefore it is a tax so they don’t get any exemption.

theblackcommenter on November 22, 2013 at 3:56 PM

Never pray for patience!

Akzed on November 22, 2013 at 1:41 PM

What then? My inquiring mind wants to know :)

Scrumpy on November 22, 2013 at 1:52 PM

If you pray for patience, God will send you situations in which you can learn patience.

Pray for the strength to endure the unendurable.

Solaratov on November 22, 2013 at 7:02 PM

Amazingly, the American Civil Liberties Union is arguing the opposite — that people with religious conviction don’t have civil rights to free expression of their religious beliefs outside of those churches.

That sentence only makes sense if you don’t already understand that ACLU stands for Anti-Christian Lawsuit Union. Once you understand that simple fact, the leftist, athiest organization that is the ACLU’s actions will not surprise you one bit.

Theophile on November 22, 2013 at 10:26 PM

Wait til this gets to the DC circuit for review? Dear leader has 3 radical judges ready for confirmation after the nuke option removed all objections.

Kissmygrits on November 23, 2013 at 9:57 AM

….this would all be moot if a few Christian groups cut off a few heads…in order to protect their religious freedom of expression; works for the Muslims

E9RET on November 23, 2013 at 1:10 PM