CASTLE ROCK, Colo., March 28, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- In a major victory for the First Amendment right to religious freedom, a federal judge has ruled in favor of Catholic Benefits Association (CBA) members, issuing declaratory relief and a permanent injunction against the Obamacare CASC (contraception, abortifacient, sterilization, and related counseling) Mandate. The ruling also eliminates $6.9billion in fines that have accumulated against CBA members.
The judgment means that the government cannot force Catholic employers who are members of the CBA to provide the mandate CASC coverage. The decision also declares the Mandate is illegal as applied to CBA members. While an injunction stops the federal government from enforcing the CASC Mandate against CBA members, the declaratory judgment speaks directly to the illegality of what the federal government has been trying to do to CBA members for years. The court stated that the federal government "violated RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act)" by trying to coerce members into providing CASC services.
Four years ago, the CBA challenged the Department of Health and Human Services' mandate (HHS mandate) in the district court claiming that the mandates were in direct conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Two federal lawsuits were filed in 2014 by the Catholic Benefits Association (CBA), a membership association that represents over 1,000 Catholic employers. The goal was to protect Catholic employers from federal government mandates that sought to force Catholic employers to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs – a goal that was achieved with this month's ruling.
U.S. District Court Judge David Russell ruled that his decision is permanent. The court's injunction binds not only the current administration but future administrations, protecting CBA members from any other regulation in the future that tries to use the "women's preventive services mandate" to force CBA members to violate their conscience.
"This is the tremendous win," said Douglas G. Wilson, the CBA's Chief Executive Officer. "The first freedom in the Bill of Rights is the First Amendment right to freedom of religion. The court has rightly ruled that employers should not be forced to violate their beliefs and cover morally problematic elective and often low-cost choices that individuals may wish to make."