News Law and Policy

Notre Dame Lawsuit Challenging Contraception Mandate Dismissed

Jessica Mason Pieklo

The University can't challenge the contraception mandate because it faces no risk of injury from it, ruled a federal court.

The University of Notre Dame’s lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s contraception mandate has been dismissed by a federal judge who held the school’s claims of injury are not “ripe” because the school is not facing any immediate injury nor does the school have standing at this time to bring them.

U.S. District Judge Robert L. Miller cited the Obama administration’s promise to craft additional accommodations to the mandate for religious institutions like Notre Dame that are self-insured as the primary justification for the ruling. Additionally, Judge Miller held, because Notre Dame is included in the safe-harbor period while the mandate is implemented it faces no threat of enforcement action against it. In short, the judge said, Notre Dame can’t challenge the mandate now because it is not subject to the requirement it provide contraception without a co-pay, and, taking the Obama administration at its word, it never will be.

The decision puts to rest, at least temporarily, one of the more than forty challenges to the contraception mandate working their way through the federal court system, just after the Supreme Court refused Hobby Lobby’s request to be freed of the mandate’s requirements to ensure employees have coverage of contraception, as the latter pursues claims that for-profit secular corporations have religious exercise rights that are in jeopardy thanks to the mandate.

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