Washington, DC – Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, announced today that its case is moving forward in the federal courts to challenge the HHS mandate. The fourth such case to be introduced, back at the start of 2012, the Priests for Life lawsuit will now be appealed to the full body of judges of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, where a three-judge panel issued an adverse ruling in November. “We are determined to go all the way to the Supreme Court, which we are convinced we will need to do in due time. But what we are doing now is the next step in that process. Ultimately, no matter how the courts rule, we will not obey the mandate, no matter what the consequences.”
The Court has consolidated the case brought by the Archdiocese of Washington (which case includes Catholic University of America, Thomas Aquinas College, and other plaintiffs) with that of Priests for Life. This consolidated case is at the lead of the religious non-profit cases against the mandate.
Lead attorney Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center explained, “Priests for Life is requesting that the D.C. Circuit rehear the case en banc (full court) because the panel’s decision directly conflicts with the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Hobby Lobby. Just as in Hobby Lobby, Priests for Life believes that if it complies with the regulation, it will be facilitating immoral conduct in violation of its Catholic faith. And just as in Hobby Lobby, if Priests for Life does not comply, it will pay a heavy price. That is the very definition of an unlawful burden on religious exercise. And should the full court refuse to rehear the case, we will seek review in the Supreme Court. This battle is not over.”
The filing of the case with the Court will take place today or tomorrow. Fr. Pavone added, “We have been receiving statements of support from priests across the nation indicating that they stand with us in this battle for religious freedom. They know that this is not only a matter of the HHS mandate, but of the principle behind everything they do each day: the freedom of the Church to exist and function in society according to her beliefs.”
To keep up with the Priests for Life case and the arguments and talking points involved, see www.IStandWithPFL.com.