Praise for Heroes Who Have Stood Firm Against the HHS Mandate


MANASSAS, VA. October 19, 2017 — Last week, the Trump administration agreed to settle 13 lawsuits filed by 74 plaintiffs seeking relief from a federal government mandate to include sterilization and contraception, including abortifacients, in their employee health care plans despite strong religious beliefs against such practices. All of the plaintiffs are represented by the Jones Day law firm, but we anticipate more dismissals and court rulings that will end the struggle of other plaintiffs fighting the Obama administration’s “HHS Mandate.”

We take this opportunity to express the Newman Society’s deep gratitude and admiration for the plaintiffs in these cases, the many other plaintiffs whose lawsuits against the “HHS Mandate” continue, and others who stood firmly on the rock of moral truth to end this threat to religious activity.

These include our Catholic bishops and other religious leaders, who demonstrated the moral leadership that is so greatly appreciated by families, businesses, and ministries increasingly threatened by a secular culture. They also include organizational and business leaders—Catholics, Protestants, and other—who joined in the common cause of defending religious freedom. Many attorneys heroically worked together to advise and represent the plaintiffs—notably the attorneys at Jones Day and the pro bono attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom and Becket. Americans should be grateful to President Trump and his Administration for each step taken to restore religious freedom, and we trust that many more steps will be taken by our federal agencies and Congress to reverse the tragic course set by the prior Administration.

In particular, we are grateful to the Catholic schools and colleges that stood with The Cardinal Newman Society to publicly oppose the HHS Mandate. These are courageous, authentic Catholic educators who know that our Faith is taught by personal witness, often at great cost.

Rather than comply with the Mandate, these few schools and colleges heeded the call of their Catholic bishops and proclaimed the truth that Catholic education, if it is to remain Catholic, can never compromise on moral truth.

Sadly, their shining witness stands in stark contrast to the failure of many other Catholic educators to rise to the defense of Catholic education.

The mission of Catholic education was severely threatened by the HHS Mandate, and yet few of America’s Catholic schools and colleges—especially the large, influential universities—took meaningful and aggressive action to fight the HHS Mandate.

This was a scandal to the Faithful, given the U.S. bishops’ clear statements urging Catholic institutions to resist the Mandate and publicly witness to moral truth.

This scandal is in addition to the grave scandal at some Catholic universities of intentionally providing contraception and sterilization coverage in their health plans, some even prior to the Mandate.

All the more do we applaud and appreciate those institutions that did stand strong and have restored for all Americans some measure of the religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment. These include:

  • The plaintiffs in last week’s settled lawsuits include some of America’s most faithful Catholic colleges, all recommended in The Newman Guide for their strong Catholic identity: Aquinas College (Nashville, Tenn.); The Catholic University of America (Washington, D.C.); Franciscan University of Steubenville (Steubenville, Ohio); Thomas Aquinas College (Santa Paula, Calif.); University of Dallas (Irving, Tex.); and Wyoming Catholic College (Lander, Wyo.).
  • Lawsuits filed against the HHS Mandate by Ave Maria School of Law (Naples, Fla.), Ave Maria University (Ave Maria, Fla.), and Belmont Abbey College (Belmont, N.C.) continue. These, too, are among America’s most faithful Catholic colleges.
  • Also covered by last week’s settlements are University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, Ind.) and University of Saint Francis (Fort Wayne, Ind.), although it must be noted that Notre Dame tragically chose to comply with the HHS Mandate even while pursuing its suit, despite the objections of the university’s bishop.
  • Plaintiffs represented by Jones Day and believed to be covered by last week’s settlements include these courageous Catholic schools: Archbishop Carroll High School (Washington, D.C.); Cardinal Spellman High School (Bronx, N.Y.); Christ the King Catholic School (Atlanta, Ga.); Consortium of Catholic Academies of Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. (Sacred Heart, St. Anthony, St. Francis Xavier, St. Thomas More); Erie Catholic Preparatory School (Erie, Pa.); Mary of Nazareth Roman Catholic Elementary School (Washington, D.C.); Monsignor Farrell High School (Staten Island, N.Y.); Resurrection Catholic School (Biloxi, Miss.); Sacred Heart Catholic School (Biloxi, Miss.); St. Joseph Catholic School (Madison, Miss.); and Vicksburg Catholic School (Vicksburg, Miss.).
  • Many other courageous Catholic schools filed lawsuits that are either continuing or have been dismissed, including All Saints Catholic School (Norman, Okla.); Father Ryan High School (Nashville, Tenn.); John Paul II Catholic School at St. Matthews (Gillette, Wyo.); Pius X Catholic High School (Lincoln, Neb.); Pope John Paul II High School (Nashville, Tenn.); Rhodora J. Donahue Academy (Ave Maria, Fla.); St. Anthony Tri-Parish Catholic School (Casper, Wyo.); and St. John the Evangelist Regional Catholic School (Uniontown, Pa.).

We also take special note of those faithful Catholic schools and colleges that have often stood publicly with The Cardinal Newman Society in opposition to the HHS Mandate, including the colleges recommended in The Newman Guide. Not every institution was able to file lawsuits, but these educators valiantly stood against the Mandate and thereby share in the victory.

In addition, on behalf of faithful Catholic schools and colleges, the Newman Society joined last year with the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and six other national religious organizations in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, urging protection for religious organizations from the HHS mandate. The Court heard our concerns, and we are grateful to the USCCB for organizing that brief.

May God bless all Catholic educators who have demonstrated their commitment to teaching truth in the classroom and by their personal witness to Christ and the true mission of Catholic education. Their fidelity is a light that shines brightly.

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