Statement of Archdiocese of Washington in Response to U.S. District Court’s Decision in Archbishop of Washington et al. v. Kathleen Sebelius
December 21, 2013
In an astonishing decision that conflicts with the well-reasoned rulings of many other federal courts around the country, late Friday the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Archdiocese of Washington and its related affiliates, holding that they have no right to challenge the HHS Mandate and that they are not being forced to act contrary to their religious beliefs. The Archdiocese plans to immediately appeal the decision.
The District Court’s ruling is perplexing. It creates an unequal patchwork of justice in our country, where fundamental liberties seem to depend on where one lives. The ruling is contrary to the recent favorable decisions of federal courts in Pennsylvania and New York, upholding the challenge to the HHS Mandate brought by dioceses and a host of Catholic schools, health care systems and charities. These cases are virtually identical to ours, involving the same law, the same arguments, and the same essential facts and circumstances. The action by the D.C. federal court is also contrary to favorable rulings issued yesterday by federal courts in Oklahoma and Michigan which ruled that the HHS Mandate imposes a substantial and impermissible burden on the free exercise of religion by the religious objectors in those cases. In addition, the D.C. District Court’s decision fails to follow precedent established by the recent ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which blocked enforcement of the HHS Mandate against for-profit organizations with religious objections to its requirements.
The Archdiocese and its related affiliates are extremely disappointed and troubled by the court’s failure to uphold the Church’s freedom to maintain a health care plan consistent with its religious beliefs. Since the regulations take effect on January 1, 2014, and would force the Archdiocese’s affiliated ministries to violate their deeply held Catholic beliefs or face crippling fines and penalties for noncompliance, we will appeal this decision and seek immediate relief from the appellate court. We believe the Court erred in its reasoning and application of the law and look forward to advancing a successful appeal.
For more information about the lawsuit brought by the Archdiocese and its co-plaintiffs, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington, et al. v. Kathleen Sebelius, et al., case no. 13-1441, please visit www.preservereligiousfreedom.org.
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