First-round freedom win for Iowa, Mich. Christian colleges against HHS mandate

ADF attorneys represent Dordt College and Cornerstone University
Wednesday, May 21, 2014

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — A federal court issued an order Wednesday that halts enforcement of the Obama administration’s HHS mandate against two Christian colleges: Dordt College in Iowa and Cornerstone University in Michigan.

ADF attorneys represent the colleges in a lawsuit challenging the administration’s mandate that forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions and under threat of heavy penalties, to provide insurance coverage for pills and procedures that many Christians oppose. The two colleges object to the government’s conclusion that they are not sufficiently religious to qualify for the extremely narrow religious exemption from the mandate.

“Christian colleges should remain free to operate according to their defining beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor. “Under this mandate, religious employers have no real choice: they must either comply and abandon their religious freedom, or resist and be taxed for their faith. If the government can force Christian colleges to act contrary to their deeply-held religious convictions, then the government can do just about anything. The court was right to block enforcement of this unconstitutional mandate.”

The lawsuit, Dordt College v. Sebelius, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, Western Division, argues that the mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as well as the First and Fifth amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

“With full knowledge that many religious organizations hold the same or similar beliefs, the Defendants issued regulations that…trample on the freedom of the Schools and millions of other American organizations and individuals to abide by their religious convictions and comply with moral imperatives they believe are decreed by God Himself,” the lawsuit states, adding that the mandate “illegally and unconstitutionally coerces the Schools to violate” those imperatives “under threat of heavy fines and penalties.”

The lawsuit also points out that “the government has provided thousands of exemptions…for various groups, such as large corporations, but refuses to exempt most religious groups from this unprecedented Mandate. Moreover, the Mandate does not apply to countless ‘grandfathered’ employer group health plans, through which millions of American women receive health insurance coverage, belying any contention that the Mandate advances some compelling government interest.”

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys are also litigating 19 other lawsuits against the mandate. The lawsuits represent a large cross-section of Protestants and Catholics who object to the mandate.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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