Amicus Briefs Filed in First Federal Appeal Regarding the HHS Mandate “The trial court rulings in the Wheaton College and Belmont Abbey College cases are frightening examples of judicial abdication that permit the expansion of executive power far beyond its constitutional limits.” — Ilya Shapiro
Ryan Colby 202-349-7219 firstname.lastname@example.org
“The trial court rulings in the Wheaton College and Belmont Abbey College cases are frightening examples of judicial abdication that permit the expansion of executive power far beyond its constitutional limits.” — Ilya Shapiro
13 states and 9 key institutions filed briefs on Friday in support of the Becket Fund’s appeal to the D.C. Circuit on behalf of Wheaton College and Belmont Abbey College in their challenges to the HHS mandate:
- 13 States (Texas, Nebraska, Michigan, Indiana, Florida, Oklahoma, Alabama, Ohio, Georgia, Virginia, Colorado, South Carolina, and Idaho)
- The Catholic University of America, The Catholic Archbishop of Washington, D.C., and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
- Women Speak for Themselves
- The Cato Institute, the American Civil Rights Union, and the Chapman University Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence
- The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Catholic Medical Association, The National Catholic Bioethics Center, Physicians for Life, and the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses
- Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, Patrick Henry College, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic of the Anglican Church in North America, Queens Federation of Churches, National Association of Evangelicals, Association of Christian Schools International, Christian Medical Association, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, Prison Fellowship Ministries, Association of Rescue Gospel Missions and Christian Legal Society
- Eagle Forum Education and Legal Defense Fund
- The American Center for Law and Justice, and Regent University
- Alliance Defending Freedom–Universities and Businesses
Illya Shapiro with the Cato institute wrote an excellent blog post on their amicus and the frightening examples of judicial abdication this mandate presents:
The legal point here is somewhat technical, but incredibly important for anyone who thinks his freedom of conscience may be violated by the government in the future (a category that includes essentially everyone). …
We argue that the trial court misapplied the constitutional test for standing by not focusing on the facts that existed at the outset of the case; subsequent government actions, such as the ANPRM, are irrelevant to the preliminary question of standing. We also argue that the trial court’s ruling compromises the principle of separation of powers by giving the executive branch the power to strip a court of jurisdiction merely by issuing a safe harbor pronouncement and an ANPRM (which doesn’t legally bind an agency to act in any way).
It is thus entirely speculative whether the agency will alleviate the harms that the colleges are suffering. Without intervention from the courts, therefore, the colleges are left in legal limbo while facing immediate and undeniable harms to their religious freedom: On one hand, they can’t challenge the constitutionality of a final regulation. On the other, they can’t very well rely on a proposed regulatory amendment that may be offered at some unknown point in the future.
The trial court rulings in the Wheaton College and Belmont Abbey College cases are frightening examples of judicial abdication that permit the expansion of executive power far beyond its constitutional limits. The D.C. Circuit will hear argument in these consolidated cases later this fall.
There are now over 35 separate lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate, which is a regulation under the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”).
The Becket Fund led the charge against the unconstitutional HHS mandate, and in addition to Wheaton and Belmont Abbey represents: East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University, Hobby Lobby, Colorado Christian University, the Eternal Word Television Network, and Ave Maria University.