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Judge rejects Notre Dame bid for injunction on contraception coverage

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A federal judge denied the University of Notre Dame’s request for an injunction blocking the “contraception mandate” in the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to provide insurance coverage for birth control.

“While the interests for and against injunction are very closely balanced, I find that the low likelihood of Notre Dame’s success on the merits tips the sliding scale towards denial of the preliminary injunction,” wrote Chief Judge Philip P. Simon of the District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in South Bend.

Simon ruled Friday in University of Notre Dame v. Kathleen Sebelius, et al., 3:13-CV-1276.

Notre Dame refiled its federal suit earlier this month seeking to block enforcement of the mandate that it claimed violated its religious liberties under the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Simon wasn’t persuaded. Notre Dame, he wrote, already may opt out of the mandate.

“If Notre Dame takes that tack, someone else provides the coverage, and not on Notre Dame’s dime. Notre Dame nonetheless claims that by formally opting out, it would trigger, or authorize, a third party’s provision of contraception, and it objects to that.

“Notre Dame wants to eat its cake, and have it still, at the expense of Congress, administrative agencies, and the employees who will be affected. Notre Dame is free to opt out of providing the coverage itself, but it can’t stop anyone else from providing it. But that is essentially what Notre Dame is requesting,” Simon wrote.

“The government isn’t violating Notre Dame’s right to free exercise of religion by letting it opt out, or by arranging for third party contraception coverage. For these reasons … because I find that Notre Dame is not likely to succeed on the merits, a preliminary injunction is not warranted.”
 

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