- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 3, 2013

For the second time, the University of Notre Dame has filed a legal challenge to Obamacare, claiming the federal government has no constitutional right to compel the school to provide free birth control.

The university filed an identical suit in January, but the case was tossed by a federal judge, who ruled Notre Dame didn’t have standing — or legal authority — to sue, since it wouldn’t be impacted by the law, The Hill reported.

But Notre Dame said on Tuesday that it’s picking up its challenge again.

“Our abiding concern in both the original filing … and this re-filing has been Notre Dame’s freedom — and indeed the freedom of many religious organizations in this country — to live out a religious mission,” university President John Jenkins said in a statement reported by The Hill. “We have sought neither to prevent women from having access to services, nor to prevent the government from providing them.”

University officials have worked with the administration for at least a year to come up with a plan that allows the school to skirt the Obamacare birth control mandate. But now, Notre Dame said it’s doubtful such a deal can be forged.

“We believe the participants undertook these discussions in good faith, and we are grateful to the administration for the time it gave to this matter,” Mr. Jenkins said, The Hill reported. “We have concluded, however, the government’s accommodations would require us to forfeit our 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.”

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Health Care Reform

Obamacare requires that most employers provide free birth control. Churches are exempt, but the fate of religious-based institutes is still sticky. Notre Dame is one of a handful of religiously tied institutions that self-insures and pays for all workers’ health claims, and school officials have been trying to forge a suitable plan with the Department of Health and Human Services that doesn’t violate Catholic teachings. HHS, for its part, has vowed that schools affiliated with the Catholic Church or that hold religious views against birth control won’t have to provide contraception to students. But the agency still has to determine how that policy might play for those who work for these same facilities.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court just agreed to hear a case from Hobby Lobby, a Christian-based private employer that has challenged the same Obamacare mandate.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide