The following comes from a Sept. 1 release by the Cardinal Newman Society.
Last week, Thomas Aquinas College (TAC) in Santa Paula, Calif., appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for relief from the HHS Mandate with the Catholic University of America and the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. But should the court fail to protect their religious freedom, TAC President Dr. Michael McLean told the Cardinal Newman Society that his faithful college is prepared to pay significant fines rather than violate its beliefs.
In an interview with the Newman Society, McLean discussed the pressing need for religious freedom from the sterilization and contraceptive mandate, especially for Catholic colleges that wish to maintain their sincerely held religious beliefs.
On August 25, attorneys for TAC submitted a brief to the Supreme Court, urging the court to take up the college’s case and refuting the government’s latest arguments against exempting the college from the federal mandate. The college explained why it should be exempted from the HHS mandate and any government requirements that would compel it to go against its Catholic identity and mission by facilitating free contraceptive, abortifacient and sterilization coverage for its employees.
The brief is the latest step in a two-year legal battle which began on September 20, 2013, when the college filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. TAC received a permanent injunction from the HHS mandate, but the Obama administration appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which removed the injunction on November 14, 2014. A motion for reconsideration was denied by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, but TAC received an emergency stay until the Supreme Court rules on the case.
McLean sees two possibilities for TAC, should the Supreme Court rule against the college or decide not to take up the case. Either the college will no longer offer employees health insurance, or the college will be forced to move to an alternative Christian or Catholic health care arrangement.
“Both of these scenarios will probably result in the college’s having to pay significant fines to the government,” said McLean….
The Supreme Court is expected to consider the petition at its September 28 weekly conference, according to the TAC news release. The temporary stay exempting the college for the mandate will remain in place until the court determines whether it will review the case.