The University of Notre Dame has re-filed its lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, challenging the controversial mandate that employers cover contraception in the health care benefits they provide workers.
Filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, the lawsuit states that the government does not have the right to impose rules on the university that violate its religious beliefs.
"This lawsuit is about one of America's most cherished freedoms: the freedom to practice one's religion without government interference," the complaint says. "It is not about whether people have a right to abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception."
Notre Dame first filed suit in May of last year. But their complaint was deemed premature since the mandate had not yet taken effect and the administration had indicated it still might alter the regulations to accommodate religious organizations. The government also held off on enforcing the regulation as conversations continued.
The mandate now is expected to take effect Jan. 1, 2014.
"The decision to re-file came after earnest but unavailing efforts to find a solution acceptable to the various parties," the Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, said in a statement sent to students this morning. "Our abiding concern in both the original filing of May 21, 2012 and this re-filing has been Notre Dame's freedom - and indeed the freedom of many religious organizations in this country - to live out a religious mission. We have not sought to prevent women from having access to services, nor even to prevent the Government from providing them."
To date, 86 lawsuits have been filed challenging the health care law's contraception mandate, including 41 hospitals, charities, religious colleges, and Catholic dioceses. Fourteen of those suits were dismissed, including a suit filed by the Catholic Diocese of Joliet.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider the religious objections of for-profit employers, who account for more than half of the other lawsuits.