Case Against HHS Mandate Continues

A U.S. District Court judge in Brooklyn has ruled that a lawsuit challenging the federal contraceptive mandate filed by the Archdiocese of New York and two other Catholic entities can move forward.
The defendants – the U.S. departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury – filed a request that the case be dismissed, claiming the mandate is not causing “imminent injury” and that the government plans changes to accommodate religious groups that object to the requirement on moral grounds.
The HHS mandate requires employers – including most religious employers – to provide free coverage of contraceptives, sterilization and some abortion-inducing drugs free in employee health insurance. A narrow exemption applies only to those religious institutions that seek to inculcate their religious values and primarily employ and serve people of their own faith.
In his decision, Judge Brian M. Cogan of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern district of New York, rejected the defendants’ claim, saying the mandate “has caused and will continue to cause plaintiffs harm so long as it remains in place.”
“The departments’ possible decision to amend their policies does not abrogate plaintiffs’ right to seek relief for their injuries,” he said.
“The First Amendment does not require citizens to accept assurances from the government that, if the government later determines it has made a misstep, it will take ameliorative action,” Cogan said. “There is no ‘Trust us changes are coming’ clause in the Constitution.”
“We are pleased that Judge Cogan has allowed the lawsuit to proceed,” said Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the New York Archdiocese. “We look forward to proceeding to the merits of our claims.”
“It is noteworthy that, with this decision, the court has recognized that the Archdiocese of New York and other plaintiffs in this case are facing current and imminent harm from the government’s contraception coverage mandate,” he said.