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Baptist universities weigh next step on HHS mandate

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Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

July 7, 2015, Baptist Press

HBU, ETBU and the other institutions in conjunction with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty are weighing an appeal to the full U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans or to the Supreme Court following a ruling by a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court that the mandate did not and, likely, would not “substantially burden their religious exercise.”

In all, 56 cases involving 140 nonprofit plaintiffs have been filed against the mandate, according to the Becket Fund. Among various cases in the news is a last-minute temporary injunction granted to Little Sisters of the Poor from facing enforcement of the mandate in January 2014.

“We think the panel got the law and the facts wrong today,” Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel at the Becket Fund, said in a June 22 news release. “We are examining the decision with a view to next steps, which may include an appeal to the full Fifth Circuit or to the Supreme Court.” Rassbach serves as counsel to East Texas Baptist University and Houston Baptist University in the case.