Catholic network EWTN said it filed a friend of the court brief with the US Supreme Court Monday asking the court to strike down the Affordable Care Act mandate requiring employer-sponsored health plans to provide coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. The brief was filed in the cases of the order of Catholic nuns Little Sisters of Poor and other plaintiffs. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the College of the Ozarks and Catholic Defense League also have filed briefs in support of the nuns.
EWTN has been a loud critic of the mandate, filing a lawsuit over it in 2012 that was dismissed on technical grounds in 2013. A federal judge ruled against EWTN in its new lawsuit in 2014, but the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals granted an injunction allowing EWTN to continue its challenge of the mandate without racking up $35,000/day in fines.
“Today’s filing with the Supreme Court allows EWTN to have its voice heard as the Court gives consideration to these important cases challenging the government’s contraceptive mandate scheme,” said EWTN chairman and CEO Michael Warsaw. “Our brief argues that the government’s mandate and its subsequent ‘accommodation’ scheme seek to coerce EWTN and other religious organizations into violating our strongly held beliefs. The Supreme Court needs to find the mandate to be unconstitutional.”
EWTN’s brief says that since it is neither a religious order nor an arm of the Catholic church, it is not offered exemption from the contraception mandate. The 35-year-old EWTN has 11 networks broadcast in multiple languages to more than 258 million households.