3rd Circuit grants Archdiocese relief, for now, in contraceptives case

DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Chaput : Pleased with ruling.
DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Chaput : Pleased with ruling.
Posted: June 29, 2014

A FEDERAL appeals court yesterday issued an order enabling the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to temporarily avoid being forced to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives.

The order followed an appeal Thursday by the Archdiocese of a federal judge's decision denying a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of parts of the Affordable Care Act.

In his order yesterday, Third Circuit Judge D. Brooks Smith wrote that both sides must say what impact two U.S. Supreme Court decisions expected Monday will have on the Philadelphia case.

The high-court cases involve similar suits filed by the Hobby Lobby company and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Lancaster County company, both of which object to parts of the ACA on religious grounds.

In a statement yesterday, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said he "was very pleased" with the judge's ruling.

"I'm grateful for the order issued by this court, which allows us to continue our pursuit of the First Amendment principle of religious freedom," Chaput said.

A U.S. Department of Justice spokesman declined to comment on the order.

Earlier this month, Catholic Social Services, the Archdiocese and affiliated nonprofits filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, other government entities and their leaders.

The Archdiocese contends that the ACA would force religious employers to give employees access to contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and other services that violate Catholic beliefs, or be subjected to devastating penalties.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter denied a motion by the Archdiocese for a preliminary injunction, prompting the Archdiocese's appeal to the Third Circuit that day.

Chaput, in a statement earlier yesterday, had said he "was deeply disappointed" by the judge's denial.

"Our case parallels dozens of other cases nationwide in which such relief has been granted," Chaput said.


On Twitter: @julieshawphilly

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