Michael McLean, president of Thomas Aquinas College (TAC) in Santa Paula, CA, told the Cardinal Newman Society the College will pay significant fines rather than violate its beliefs.
“Seriously Catholic institutions of higher education have a duty to profess and live by the moral teachings of the Catholic Church,” McLean said, emphasizing the need for exemption from the HHS Mandate and upholding Catholic identity. “This [is] so that they can bear witness to those whom they are educating, and to those who support their work, to the truth of the faith, and to their conviction that living the faith is the way to human happiness and human fulfillment.”
Thomas Aquinas College filed an appeal with the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) August 25 seeking relief from the Mandate along with the Catholic University of America and the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., arguing in the brief that the Mandate would force it to violate its Catholic identity by facilitating free contraceptive, abortifacient, and sterilization coverage for its employees.
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The College first filed suit in the case with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in 2013, winning a permanent injunction from the HHS mandate. But the Obama administration appealed the decision to the D.C. Appellate Court, which lifted the injunction in November 2014 and denied the College's motion for reconsideration.
TAC did receive an emergency stay until the Supreme Court rules on the case.
McLean envisions two possible outcomes for the College in the event that the Supreme Court rules against it or chooses not to take up the case: either TAC will no longer offer its employees health insurance, or it will have to move to an alternative Christian or Catholic health care arrangement.
“Both of these scenarios will probably result in the College's having to pay significant fines to the government,” McLean said.
“A favorable ruling,” he continued, “assuming that it completely does away with the HHS mandate, will enable the College to continue providing insurance coverage which is consistent with its Catholic character as it has been doing now for many years.”
TAC anticipates that the Supreme Court will consider its petition at the SCOTUS September 28 weekly conference. The temporary stay exempting the College from the Mandate will be in place until the Court determines whether it will take the case.
McLean requested prayers and urged others objecting to the Mandate as a matter of conscience to keep up the fight.
“I would encourage objectors not to give up the fight but to persist in their efforts to prevail in this battle,” he said. “This is a time when witnessing to the faith is of the utmost importance.”
“In a post-Christian – actually an anti-Christian – culture, where the powers of the government are put in service to teachings and practices that are antithetical to Catholic living,” said McLean, “it is increasingly important that Catholic citizens enjoy the freedom to fully practice their faith as that freedom is explicitly guaranteed by the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”