8th Circuit halts HHS mandate for two Christian schools

ADF represents Dordt College, Cornerstone University
Thursday, September 17, 2015

Attorney sound bite:  Gregory S. Baylor

ST. LOUIS – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit Thursday upheld a district court’s 2014 decision to halt enforcement of the Obama administration’s HHS mandate against two Christian schools, Dordt College in Iowa and Cornerstone University in Michigan.
 
The Department of Health and Human Services mandate forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide access, through their health insurance plans, to abortifacients.
 
“In America, faith-based colleges and universities should be free to operate according to the faith they espouse and live out on a daily basis,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor, who argued before the 8th Circuit in December of last year. “If the administration can punish Christian organizations simply because they want to abide by their faith, there is no limit to what other freedoms it can take away. The 8th circuit was right to uphold the district court’s order and block enforcement of this unconstitutional mandate.”
 
In its opinion in Dordt College v. Burwell, the 8th Circuit wrote, “…we conclude that by coercing Dordt and Cornerstone to participate in the contraceptive mandate and accommodation process under threat of severe monetary penalty, the government has substantially burdened Dordt and Cornerstone’s exercise of religion” and “that, even assuming that the government’s interests in safeguarding public health and ensuring equal access to health care for women are compelling, the contraceptive mandate and accommodation process likely are not the least restrictive means of furthering those interests.”

“The government shouldn’t punish people of faith for making decisions in accordance with their faith,” added ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “The same applies to these Christian schools, which simply want to abide by the very beliefs they espouse and teach. The Supreme Court upheld that time-honored principle in its Conestoga/Hobby Lobby decision last year, and the 8th Circuit has rightly done the same.”
 
  • Pronunciation guide: Theriot (TAIR’-ee-oh)

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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