Christian College wins court battle against contraceptive mandate

A federal district court ended a lengthy legal battle over the Obama-era contraceptive mandate last week, ruling that the government cannot force Wheaton College to provide birth control.

According to the decision, the judge ruled that the school “is entitled to a permanent injunction” after carefully reviewing the briefs submitted by all parties.

“Wheaton has demonstrated, and Defendants now concede, that enforcement of the contraceptive mandate against Wheaton would violate Wheaton’s rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” the judge observed. “Wheaton will suffer irreparable harm to its ability to practice its religious beliefs, harm that is the direct result of Defendants’ conduct, unless Defendants are enjoined from further interfering with Wheaton’s practice of its religion.”

[RELATED: Notre Dame changes mind again, will cover contraceptives]

“We are grateful to God that the court recognized Wheaton’s religious identity and protected our ability to affirm the sanctity of human life,” college President Philip Ryken said in a statement. “The government should never have tried to force us to provide drugs and services against our faith, and we are pleased by the resolution of our case.”

According to the college, last week’s ruling offers the first permanent protection from the mandate since the Supreme Court’s Zubik v. Burwell ruling in 2016, and will further protect the academic institution “from any current or future version of the mandate.”

The college also noted that the complex contraceptive mandate made it to the Supreme Court five times, with the Court ruling in favor of religious institutions in every case. 

A new HSS rule that is said to offer protection to religious groups, however, was halted by judges in Pennsylvania and California last year, further complicating the legal challenges faced by many religious organizations around the country.

[RELATED: Notre Dame health plan to stop paying for birth control]

Diana Verm, one of the attorneys representing the school through the non-profit law firm Becket, told CBN News that the federal government cannot act above constitutional law and the civil rights doctrine. 

”The government is not above the law--that’s why we have civil rights laws,” she argued. “Wheaton should never have had to go to court to protect its rights in the first place.”

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