Bench Memos

Another Victory Against HHS Mandate “Accommodation”

In a carefully reasoned opinion issued today, federal district judge Brian M. Cogan of the Eastern District of New York ruled that various Catholic nonprofit institutions that were the supposed beneficiaries of the Obama administration’s phony accommodation on the HHS contraception mandate are entitled to permanent injunctive relief against enforcement of the HHS mandate. (The case is styled Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York v. Sebelius.)

This is the second merits ruling holding that the accommodation doesn’t satisfy the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. No court, so far as I’m aware, has ruled the other way.

As I noted a few weeks ago in discussing the first such ruling, the initial wave of merits rulings on the HHS mandate came in cases brought by owners of closely held, for-profit companies—the class of plaintiffs that the Obama administration thought undeserving of any religious-liberty protections from the mandate. These new losses in cases involving religious nonprofits and the accommodation rule signal that more legal problems for the HHS mandate—and thus for Obamacare generally—may be arriving.

The plaintiffs in this case are two Catholic archdioceses (New York and Rockville Centre) and several other Catholic institutions: Cardinal Spellman High School, Monsignor Farrell High School, Catholic Health Care System and its affiliates (evidently known as ArchCare), and Catholic Health Services of Long Island. Because the archdioceses are entirely exempt from the mandate, Judge Cogan denied those entities injunctive relief. But he granted permanent injunctive relief to the other plaintiffs.

Addendum: A reader reminds me that another nonprofit religious institution, Geneva College of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, obtained preliminary injunctive relief against the HHS mandate back in June. (That was before the accommodation rule was finalized, but the judge took into account the proposed rule.) So that makes nonprofit plaintiffs subject to the accommodation three for three on their challenges to the HHS mandate.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

It’s the Stock Market, Stupid

Before going any further, I must say that I don’t believe Protectionist Donald really will go all the way with his present attempt to strangle global trade. I believe that the end run will be quite similar to what it was with the steel and aluminum tariffs — which is to say, a photo op in the Oval Office. ... Read More

An Even Worse Vatican Deal with China

Of all the disturbing and even silly things that have been said in defense of the deal between the Vatican and China reportedly being negotiated, the most offensive is that critics of this proposed arrangement to regularize Catholic life in the PRC don’t understand that the Cold War is over and the world is in ... Read More

Ten Things that Caught My Eye Today (March 23, 2018)

I send out a free weekly e-mail newsletter that typically goes out Saturday mornings and includes WFB flashbacks, Firing Line videos, upcoming events, and some of what I’ve been up to. Sign up here. 1. Cardinal Timothy Dolan in the Wall Street Journal: Talking about New York, he noted: 2. The Guardian on the ... Read More
National Review

Palm Sunday with WFB

The wonderful National Review Institute forum in New York City last month, held on the tenth anniversary of Bill Buckley’s death -- but truly a celebration of his life and legacy -- was captured by the good folks at C-SPAN, who now tell us that two panels of the forum will be broadcast this Sunday on C-SAN 3. ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Sliming of Bari Weiss

If you follow at all the ideological war that’s erupted around the New York Times editorial page, then you know Bari Weiss. It’s too much to call Bari conservative. A better description might be heterodox. On some issues, particularly social issues and immigration, she’s a woman of the Left. On others — ... Read More