Appeals Court Hands Victory to Religious Schools

This week, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. handed Wheaton College and Belmont Abbey College a major victory in their challenges to the HHS mandate.

Last summer, two lower courts had dismissed the colleges’ cases as premature. The appellate court reinstated those cases, and ordered the Obama Administration to report back every 60 days—starting in mid-February—until the Administration makes good on its promise to issue a new rule that protects the colleges’ religious freedom. The new rule must be issued by March 31, 2013.

The court based its decision on two concessions. First, the government promised “it would never enforce [the mandate] in its current form” against religious groups. And the government promised it would publish a proposed new rule “in the first quarter of 2013.”