Important Update: Archdiocese of Washington Files Supplemental Brief in Case Challenging HHS Mandate Read More.
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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.

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About Preserve Religious Freedom

This lawsuit is about religious freedom and our ability to serve the public, not about contraception. The Church maintains that the First Amendment protects the Catholic Church's ability to serve the public in accordance with its faith and to operate its religious institutions without government interference. The argument challenges the way the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defines what is, and is not, a religious institution. By including an exemption at all, the government apparently agrees that, in keeping with decades of practice and precedent, religious institutions should not be compelled to purchase drugs or procedures that violate deeply held religious or moral beliefs.

But, the Administration's HHS mandate defines religious ministry so narrowly that religious schools, hospitals, and social services don't qualify as religious, and must therefore provide these drugs and procedures. This violates the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom. It forces religious organizations to sacrifice their beliefs in order to be able to continue their mission of serving the public. Read more about the plaintiffs filing this lawsuit here.

Preserve Religious Freedom
c/o Archdiocese of Washington
P.O. Box 29260
Washington, DC 20017-0260

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