Friday, Feb 08, 2013

A federal judge today dismissed a lawsuit filed against the HHS mandate brought by the dioceses of Springfield and Joliet and their respective Catholic Charities, as well as Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Judge John W. Darrah dismissed the suit on the plaintiff's lack of standing and the case's lack of ripeness.

The dioceses on May 21 joined dozens of other plaintiffs across the nation in suing the federal government over the mandate handed down by the federal Department of Health and Human Services in January 2012, requiring all employers to offer insurance coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization. The plaintiffs charged the mandate violates their religious freedoms as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago joined the lawsuit on July 9.

Darrah stated the plaintiffs have no standing since religious organizations have been granted a "safe harbor" until Aug. 1, 2013 to implement the required insurance coverage. He also stated that the lawsuit is not ripe for adjudication since the plaintiffs have not yet suffered any harm from the mandate.

The federal government on Feb. 1, 2013, offered proposed written accommodations to the HHS mandate to alleviate religious freedom concerns, but the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops rejected those changes as falling short while pledging to work with the government on the issue.