On Monday, May 21, lawsuits were filed across the nation by Catholic dioceses and institutions, challenging the contraception and abortion mandates. This is a historic step — never before have so many dioceses taken legal action to defend our rights.
The Archdiocese of New York (and our health care agency, ArchCare) and the Diocese of Rockville Centre were among the dioceses to file suit. Other cases were filed by the Archdioceses of Washington and St. Louis, the Dioceses of Dallas, Erie, Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, Jackson, Biloxi and Joliet, numerous Catholic Charities agencies and schools, as well as Notre Dame University, Catholic University, and Franciscan University. A press release about the Archdiocese lawsuit can be found here. A press release from Cardinal Dolan on behalf of the USCCB can be read here.
The grounds for these lawsuits include the Free Exercise, Establishment and Free Speech clauses of the First Amendment, and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The essential arguments are that the HHS mandate intrudes upon our religious freedom by forcing our institutions to cooperate with moral evil and by intruding upon our internal governance.
On a larger level, the lawsuit is about a question that goes to the heart of what it is to be an American of faith — can the government decide which religions they will approve and which they will punish? In other words, will we have an Established Church here in America — one that must bow to the policy preferences of the current Administration?
To ask the question is to answer it. For most of us, our ancestors came here hoping to enjoy freedom to worship God as they wished, without the orders or demands of the state.
This is a very important step in resisting the violation of our religious liberties by the government. We should all pray for its success.