Skip to comments.Evangelical heavyweight sues: Wheaton College files 24th lawsuit against HHS mandate
Posted on 07/18/2012 5:19:34 PM PDT by rhema
The most prominent evangelical college in the country joined a chorus of Catholic and Protestant institutions suing the federal government over the contraceptive mandate. Wheaton College filed a lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging that the Department of Health and Human Services had violated its religious freedom and free speech.
This insurance mandate is against our conscience and our Christian conviction, said Philip Ryken, president of the school located in Wheaton, Ill. We had no recourse but to file this suit.
The mandate runs roughshod over Wheatons religious beliefs, and the beliefs of millions of other Americans, by forcing it to provide health insurance coverage for abortifacient drugs and related education and counseling, the lawsuit reads. (Download a PDF of the complaint.)
Wheaton, which was founded in 1860 and is one of the oldest evangelical schools in the country, is neither a church nor a seminary so it would not qualify for the contraceptive mandates narrow religious exemption. The college would have to provide full insurance coverage for all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives, which include Plan B, the morning-after pill, and Ella, the week-after pill. Ryken had written letters objecting to the mandate to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius beginning in September 2011. He said the colleges board made the decision to file a lawsuit in May, but wanted to wait until after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its healthcare decision to see whether that would resolve the issue.
Wheaton noted in the complaint that it has no conscientious objection to contraceptives, but it objected to providing insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs or services even if those items were paid for by an insurer or a plan administrator and not by Wheaton College.
The Obama administration has proffered an accommodation where insurers would provide contraceptives in religious employees coverage for free, though no one knows who would pay for the contraceptives without the cost being rolled into premiums. Furthermore, the administration has only discussed the accommodation, not put forward regulations to put it into affect.
Ryken, the former pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia who became president of Wheaton and its 2,400 undergraduate students two years ago, said he was concerned with the administrations creation of two tiers of religious groups: those that are fully exempted (churches) and those that are subject to the accommodation (everyone else).
Institutions like Wheaton College should not be merely accommodated, they should be exempted like churches are, he said.
The administration is now facing 24 lawsuits across the country over the mandate, from religious colleges, nonprofit groups, and business owners. (See a list of lawsuits from The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.) On Tuesday, a Nebraska judge dismissed one of the lawsuits, filed by several states and Catholic institutions, saying the plaintiffs lacked standing because they didnt face immediate harm from the mandate, which is set to take effect for most groups in August 2013.
The Becket Fund, which is representing Wheaton and a number of other institutions suing over the mandate, said that ruling was technical and had little bearing on Wheatons suit because the college is facing immediate harm as it negotiates insurance coverage for next year.
Why doesn’t anyone focus on the 1400+ exemptions to Obamacare that were, seemingly randomly, given out? It seems SCOTUS has never asked it, nor did any refer to it their dissent.
It seems to a gross violation of “Due Process” and “Equal Protection” clauses of the Constitution.
Can a small company with 50 employees get an exemption as clearly at the Teamsters or McDonalds? Clearly not. Why not sue that all these exemptions are unconstitutional?
You would think! The exemptions alone should be enough to say that this "law" is being applied unfairly and unevenly, and should therefore be thrown out. I don't give damn what the Left says about "The SCOTUS has ruled, so now it's the law forever!" Fracking spoiled children.
I'll come back to this later.