On June 10, Thomas Aquinas College was granted permission to postpone implementing the HHS mandate, which would require employers to provide or fund contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilization services for employees.
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decided to withhold the mandate in order to allow the school’s attorneys more time to seek judicial review from the U.S. Supreme Court.
The school’s attorneys will request the U.S. Supreme Court uphold their right to provide a form of healthcare that coincides with their religious beliefs. The stay will remain in place pending the Supreme Court’s decision.
College president Michael F. McLean said the grant of a stay would protect Thomas Aquinas from “exorbitant financial penalties for not complying with the mandate.” He added, “We very much look forward to the possibility that the Supreme Court will indeed take it [the case] up and that our religious liberty rights will be vindicated.”
The college originally filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Sept. 20, 2013, and prevailed, receiving a permanent injunction from the HHS mandate.
The U.S. Government, however, appealed that decision, and on Nov. 14, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld the government’s appeal, removing the injunction. At that time, Thomas Aquinas College filed a motion for an en banc hearing of the case.
Last month, a majority of the court denied the motion, though two strong dissents were filed. The college quickly requested and has now received an emergency stay in the matter.
Co-plaintiffs in the college’s lawsuit include The Catholic University of America, the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and Priests for Life.