FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: March 31, 2014
Contact: Leslie Palma
NEW YORK, NY – On March 25, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Wood Specialties case regarding whether for-profit businesses have religious rights to be protected from the HHS mandate. The court is expected to render its decision in June.
Three days later, the Supreme Court considered whether or not to likewise hear a case – Priests for Life vs. Sebelius — concerning how much protection the non-profit religious entities should have from the same mandate.
“Many Americans have been led to believe that religious groups like Priests for Life are automatically exempt. That is not the case,” explained Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life. “Churches are exempt, but other non-profit organizations like Priests for Life are still being told to violate our consciences. The government says we just have to sign a form that expresses our objection to the mandate, and then they will arrange for our employees to be covered for the objectionable practices. But that still makes us the gateway to the coverage, and we want no part of that.”
Priests for Life’s lawsuit, filed in February 2012, was one of the first lawsuits to challenge the mandate, and is currently in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. At the same time, an appeal to the Supreme Court has been made, utilizing “Rule 11,” which allows a matter of particular importance to be brought to the Supreme Court even while a lower court is hearing it.
The attorneys at the American Freedom Law Center pointed out that not only does Priests for Life object to the mandate, but the very purpose of the organization is to oppose the kinds of practices the mandate requires groups to cover. Therefore, the ministry is uniquely qualified for a separate review by the Supreme Court; as the petition states, “This challenge goes to the very core of Priests for Life’s reason for existing as an organization.”
Father Pavone said he expects to find out this week if the Supreme Court will review Priests for Life’s case. Regardless of that decision, the case in the appeals court continues. Lawyers for the Obama administration filed another brief on Friday, March 28 and Priests for Life attorneys will respond on April 11. Oral arguments are scheduled for May 8.
Robert Muise, Chief Counsel for the American Freedom Law Center, also stated, “This case with Priests for Life is the lead case for the non-profit religious organizations challenging the mandate similar to how Hobby Lobby is the lead case for the for-profit companies challenging the HHS mandate.”
To keep up with the Priests for Life lawsuit and the petition to the Supreme Court, go to www.StandwithPFL.com Priests for Life also has launched a social media campaign using the hashtag #StandWithPFL.
Priests for Life is the nation’s largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit www.priestsforlife.org.