October 9, 2012 — Two Christian colleges on Friday appealed a federal ruling that dismissed their lawsuits against the federal contraceptive coverage rules, CQ HealthBeat reports. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed the appeal in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on behalf of Wheaton College and Belmont Abbey College.
In dismissing the suits, a judge said the challenges were premature because the federal government has given religiously affiliated institutions a one-year delay period to come into compliance with the contraceptive coverage rules. Both colleges argue that the rules, which are being implemented under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148), would violate their religious freedom.
Kyle Duncan, an attorney for the Becket Fund, argued that the one-year compliance period is "illusory" because private litigation can still ensue, schools are at a competitive disadvantage for hiring and retaining faculty, and employees are concerned they will lose their insurance coverage.
According to lawyers for the Becket Fund, the case is the first to make its way to a federal appeals court. More than 30 other suits challenging the rules are pending in federal courts (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 10/5).