A Christian college has been exempted from the Obama administration's HHS mandate, the second since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of religious freedom in June.
On Wednesday, Louisiana College was granted an exemption from the mandate by a federal court because of the college's opposition to abortion drugs and devices. Four of the 20 FDA-approved drugs required for coverage under the mandate are suspected, or proven, to be abortifacients.
The court made the ruling in light of the Supreme Court's June Hobby Lobby decision. That decision said the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act allowed closely held corporations to not participate in the abortion component of the HHS mandate.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented Louisiana College, praised the federal court's decision:
Louisiana College’s victory over the Obama administration’s abortion-pill mandate Wednesday puts the number of Alliance Defending Freedom wins against the mandate at 20-0. In addition, another ADF client, Conestoga Wood Specialties in Pennsylvania, received a district court order Thursday against the mandate as a result of its June 30 victory at the U.S. Supreme Court in Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell.
In its ruling against the mandate in Louisiana College v. Sebelius, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Alexandria Division, called the government’s claimed attempt at an accommodation for non-profit religious organizations like Louisiana College “a subterfuge.”
The “accommodation,” recently rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court itself in an Illinois lawsuit, requires private colleges to “self-certify” their compliance with the mandate by filling out a form that authorizes their insurance companies to cover objectionable items and services.
“In this case, we would go so far as to say that self-certification is vastly more than a mere ‘administrative’ act,” the district court wrote in its opinion Wednesday. “Rather the challenged regulations and their application trigger a subterfuge requiring indirect action the regulations could not do if they applied to Plaintiff directly.”