He may have been counting on the controversy over the HHS mandate to blow over after a few months and changing news cycles passed. He may have counted on it continuing to simmer and making it an issue about ‘women’s preventive health services’ and contraception and the bogus ‘war on women.’ But he probably didn’t see this coming.
On Monday, 43 Catholic institutions joined a dozen lawsuits filed against the administration.
Some of the most influential Catholic institutions in the country filed suit against the Obama administration Monday over the so-called contraception mandate, in one of the biggest coordinated legal challenges to the rule to date.
Claiming their “fundamental rights hang in the balance,” a total of 43 plaintiffs filed a dozen separate federal lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the requirement. Among the organizations filing were the University of Notre Dame, the Archdiocese of New York and The Catholic University of America.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and president of the US bishops conference, released this statement:
“We have tried negotiation with the Administration and legislation with the Congress – and we’ll keep at it – but there’s still no fix. Time is running out, and our valuable ministries and fundamental rights hang in the balance, so we have to resort to the courts now. Though the Conference is not a party to the lawsuits, we applaud this courageous action by so many individual dioceses, charities, hospitals and schools across the nation, in coordination with the law firm of Jones Day. It is also a compelling display of the unity of the Church in defense of religious liberty. It’s also a great show of the diversity of the Church’s ministries that serve the common good and that are jeopardized by the mandate – ministries to the poor, the sick, and the uneducated, to people of any faith or no faith at all.”
Notre Dame’s lawsuit is drawing a lot of attention. Fr. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, said the lawsuit was not a war on a woman’s right to use contraception.
“Many of our faculty, staff and students — both Catholic and non-Catholic — have made conscientious decisions to use contraceptives,” Jenkins said. “As we assert the right to follow our conscience, we respect their right to follow theirs. And we believe that, if the Government wishes to provide such services, means are available that do not compel religious organizations to serve as its agents.”
Others weighed in…
“Franciscan University’s mission is and always has been to teach from the heart of the Church,” said University President Father Terence Henry, TOR. “The Obama administration’s mandate is a grave threat to our ability to carry out that mission. It makes it impossible for us to operate freely as a Catholic institution without overbearing and invasive governmental interference.”
This lawsuit is about an unprecedented attack by the federal government on one of America’s most cherished freedoms: the freedom to practice one’s religion without government interference. It is not about whether people have access to certain services; it is about whether the government may force religious institutions and individuals to facilitate and fund services which violate their religious beliefs.
These strong statements were echoed across the country in this well-coordinated legal challenge.
They won’t back down. And the ‘Catholic vote’ is shifting significantly this election year.