SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — A federal judge said he doesn't think the
University of Notre Dame will succeed in its challenge to a federal health
care law requirement that it provide students and employee health plans
that cover birth control.
U.S. District Judge Philip Simon on Friday rejected the Catholic school's
request for an injunction, prompting Notre Dame to file an appeal Monday
to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.
School spokesman Paul Browne said Monday that Notre Dame was disappointed
by Simon's ruling, but was determined to press forward with the lawsuit it
filed earlier this month.
"We continue to believe that the challenged mandate is an impermissible
infringement on Notre Dame's religious rights," he said.
The lawsuit challenges a compromise in the Affordable Health Care Act
offered by the Obama administration that attempted to create a buffer for
religiously affiliated hospitals, universities and social service groups
that oppose birth control. The law requires insurers or the health plan's
outside administrator to pay for birth control coverage and creates a way
to reimburse them.
Notre Dame contends that the law violates its freedom to practice religion
without government interference. The Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame's
president, has said that the government's accommodations would require
Notre Dame to forfeit its rights, "to facilitate and become entangled in a
program inconsistent with Catholic teaching and to create the impression
that the university cooperates with and condones activities incompatible
with its mission."
Simon wrote that the government is authorizing the third party to pay for
the contraception, not Notre Dame.
"Notre Dame wants to eat its cake, and have it still, at the expense of
Congress, administrative agencies, and the employees who will be
affected," Simon wrote. "Notre Dame is free to opt out of providing the
coverage itself, but it can't stop anyone else from providing it."
Simon wrote that he doesn't believe there are any financial burdens placed
on Notre Dame because of the new law, and said the law does not require
the university "to modify its own behavior." Simon also questioned why
Notre Dame waited until December to file the lawsuit when the regulations
were published in July, then waited another six days after filing the
lawsuit to seek a preliminary injunction.