A federal appeals court has turned down the University of Notre Dame’s request for immediate relief from complying with Obamacare provisions relating to contraceptive coverage.
In a 2-1 decision issued late Friday afternoon, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit rejected Notre Dame’s appeal of a district judge’s order denying a preliminary injunction the Catholic school requested to avoid having to complete a form stating that Notre Dame had a religious objection to providing the contraceptive coverage normally required under the Affordable Care Act.
Judge Richard Posner, one of the country’s best known jurists aside from the Supreme Court, largely dismissed Notre Dame’s objection to filling out the government-issued form.
“If the government is entitled to require that female contraceptives be provided to women free of charge, we have trouble understanding how signing the form that declares Notre Dame’s authorized refusal to pay for contraceptives for its students or staff, and mailing the authorization document to those companies, which under federal law are obligated to pick up the tab, could be thought to ‘trigger’ the provision of female contraceptives,” Posner wrote in an opinion joined by Judge David Hamilton.
Posner also noted that the university submitted the form late last year, albeit unwillingly, so it was unclear what precisely the court was being asked to do about it.
While concluding that the university had not make the case for a preliminary injunction, Posner’s opinion raised questions about the constitutionality of some provisions in the relevant Obamacare regulation. He also said the appeals court wasn’t expressing a view on whether the school might be able to prove its case on the merits in the district court.