Statement of Archdiocese of Washington in Response to U.S. District Court’s Decision in Archbishop of Washington et al. v. Kathleen Sebelius
Late today, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Archdiocese of Washington and its co-plaintiffs, asserting that the case is premature in light of the government’s promises to amend the HHS mandate. Importantly, this ruling was not based on the merits of our case.
In fact, the court’s ruling today places the onus squarely on the government to fulfill its binding commitment to address the religious freedom concerns of the Archdiocese of Washington, The Catholic University of America and several other Catholic entities. This requires the government to revise its HHS mandate in a way that truly respects our right to serve all those in need without violating our religious beliefs.
Today’s decision was based on two commitments the government made to the court in this case and others: first, that the mandate as currently written will never be enforced against us; and second, that the mandate will be revised in a way that addresses our religious freedom concerns by March 31, 2013.
The court specifically noted that the archdiocese and its co-plaintiffs have the right to file a new complaint if the government does not make a meaningful change to the mandate by the March deadline. The court made clear that “it would not look favorably upon the government’s failure to comply.”
On this day when so many march to honor the dignity of every human life from conception to natural death, we are hopeful that this ruling will ensure that Catholic and other religious entities will never be forced to engage in practices that violate our religious beliefs.