SANTA PAULA, CA—December 23— On Friday, December 20, Judge Amy Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia agreed that the HHS Contraceptive Mandate substantially burdened Thomas Aquinas College's exercise of religion in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Therefore, Judge Jackson entered summary judgment on behalf of the College and issued a permanent injunction against the U.S. Government from enforcing the mandate in its current form.
The government has 30 days to file a notice of appeal of this ruling.
Judge Jackson found that because Thomas Aquinas College self-insures, the challenged regulations could force the College to take steps to facilitate access to contraceptive and abortifacient services. Since the College testified that access to such services is contrary to its Catholic principles, the Court found that the regulations substantially burden the College's free exercise of religion, and thus issued the permanent injunction.
Judge Jackson states in her ruling:
“In the case of a self-insured entity like Thomas Aquinas, the newly enacted regulations fall short of the mark. Since the accommodation imposes a duty upon the religious organization to contract with a willing third-party administrator that will arrange for the payments for contraceptives, they compel the organization to take affirmative steps – to do something – that is in conflict with the tenets of its faith. And therefore, defendants are enjoined from enforcing the mandate against Thomas Aquinas College.”
The College’s co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit were denied relief from the Court and are appealing their ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Says Thomas Aquinas College President Dr. Michael F. McLean, “While we are delighted with Judge Jackson’s ruling concerning Thomas Aquinas College in this matter, we deeply regret that our co-plaintiffs did not receive similar rulings. We stand with the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., The Catholic University of America, and all our co-plaintiffs, and we pledge our prayers that they, too, will be successful in securing their religious liberties.”
Thomas Aquinas College has developed a solid reputation for academic excellence in the United States and abroad. At Thomas Aquinas College, there are no majors, no minors, or electives because all students acquire a broad and fully integrated liberal education. The College offers one 4-year, classical curriculum that spans the major arts and sciences. Instead of reading textbooks, students read the original works of the greatest thinkers in Western civilization — the Great Books — in all the major disciplines: mathematics, natural science, literature, philosophy, and theology. Rather than listening to lectures, they engage in rigorous Socratic discussions about these works in classes of 15-18 students. The academic life of the college is conducted under the light of the Catholic faith and flourishes within a close-knit community, supported by a vibrant spiritual life. Genuinely committed to upholding civic virtue and leading lives dedicated to the good of others, Thomas Aquinas College graduates enter a wide array of fields where they are a powerful force for good in the Church and in the culture. Well-versed in rational discourse, they become leaders in education, law, medicine, journalism, public policy, military service, and business. In addition, a steady 10% of alumni go on to the priesthood or religious life.