Catholic Groups’ Can Pursue Contraceptive Coverage Suit

*U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan in Brooklyn, New York, refused the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s request to dismiss the case, ruling that the archdiocese, which includes 370 parishes and insures 9,000 people, is facing impending injuries from the rule, even though it doesn’t take effect until January 2014, according to a court filing yesterday.

“Plaintiffs here have demonstrated how the enormous changes to their plans required by the coverage mandate currently exacerbate their preparation costs,” Cogan said. “They have also demonstrated that the imminent operation of the coverage mandate has already caused them to divert funds from their ministries.”*Story at Bloomberg Business Week

I just have to say how off-base other judges have been that try to dismiss these lawsuits on the grounds that businesses don’t incur injury — besides the $2,000 fine per employee per year, of course, and belief that one is cooperating with intrinsic evils. At least this judge is willing to say the case should be at least heard.

Assistant director at St John’s Center for Law and Religion and law professor Marc O DeGirolami has written his observations

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Judge Brian Cogan said

Fundamentally . . . . this Court cannot accept that the present costs incurred by plaintiffs are simply the result of their “desire to prepare for contingencies.” Quite frankly, ignoring the speeding train that is coming towards plaintiffs in the hope that it will stop might well be inconsistent with the fiduciary duties that plaintiffs’ directors or officers owe to their members. As explained above, the practical realities of administering health care coverage for large numbers of employees — which defendants’ recognize — require plaintiffs to incur these costs in advance of the impending effectiveness of the Coverage Mandate. That is a business reality that any responsible board of directors would have to appreciate.

Moreover, the First Amendment does not require citizens to accept assurances from the government that, if the government later determines it has made a misstep, it will take ameliorative action. There is no, “Trust us, changes are coming” clause in the Constitution. To the contrary, the Bill of Rights itself, and the First Amendment in particular, reflect a degree of skepticism towards governmental self-restraint and self-correction. . . . Considering the extraordinary political passion surrounding the Coverage Mandate from all sides, there is simply no way to predict what, if any, changes to the Coverage Mandate will be made, even if some policymakers favor certain changes.

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