A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a lower court ruling that denied a preliminary injunction requested by the University of Notre Dame as part of its challenge to the federal health care law’s contraception mandate.
The Roman Catholic university claims the mandate violates its religious belief, although the government allows religious employers to contract with third-party providers to offer contraception as part of their health care coverage.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made clear its opinion pertained only to a district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction Notre Dame sought on enforcing the provisions of the health care act..
In a 2-1 ruling, with one dissenting opinion, the court found that the university “has not yet shown that there is a substantial burden” in adhering to the requirements of the health care act. The court also noted that “the university hasn’t told us what exactly it wants enjoined at this stage of the litigation.”
“We imagine that what the university wants is an order forbidding (its insurance providers) to provide any contraception coverage to Notre Dame staff or students pending a final judgment in the district court.”
But the appeals court said it could not issue such an order in part because the insurers are not named as defendants in the lawsuit. “The university’s failure to join them as defendants puzzles us,” the opinion states.”
Notre Dame’s lawsuit was filed against the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Three Notre Dame students who say they will be directly affected by the lawsuit’s outcome subsequently intervened and were added as defendants.
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