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Supreme Court throws out ruling on HHS mandate

| Monday, March 9, 2015

This Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a lower court’s ruling against the University’s lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) contraception mandate.

In February 2014, the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied Notre Dame an injunction against the mandate, which requires insurance companies to provide contraceptives. In response, the University filed a petition Oct. 3 asking the Supreme Court to review the ruling in light of the higher court’s June decision in favor of Hobby Lobby’s decision not to provide certain types of birth control in its health insurance plan.

Five months later, the Court granted the University’s request, asking the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision in light of the Hobby Lobby ruling. Notre Dame’s lawsuit was the only one which had been ruled upon by a Court of Appeals before the Hobby Lobby decision.

“We’re gratified that the U.S. Supreme Court has vacated the opinion of U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit and remanded our case for consideration,” University vice president for public affairs and communications Paul Browne said in an email to The Observer.

The University began offering contraceptives Jan. 1, 2014 in compliance with the mandate and has continued to do so throughout the appeals process. Other organizations, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor and Wheaton College, have been granted temporary relief by the Supreme Court since the Hobby Lobby decision.

“Notre Dame continues to challenge the Federal mandate as an infringement on our fundamental right to the free exercise of our Catholic faith,” Browne said.

No timeline has been set for the Court of Appeals to revisit the University’s lawsuit.

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