Ave Maria University is the latest of the religious nonprofit organizations to refile a legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception benefit after having an earlier legal challenge dismissed.
The lawsuit alleges the contraception benefit, even with its final accommodation for religious-affiliated nonprofits like Ave Maria University, violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments because, according to Ave Maria President Jim Towey, it makes the university “complicit” in providing birth control. The university refiled its legal challenge after a federal judge dismissed an earlier, identical challenge because it was not “ripe” or ready to litigate, since the Obama administration had not yet issued its final rule on how to accommodate the concerns of religious employers and religiously affiliated nonprofits who argue complying with the mandate would force them to violate their deeply-held religious beliefs.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a conservative nonprofit litigating most of the religious challenges to the contraception mandate, is representing the university. According to the complaint, the school says it faces a fine of $100 per day, per employee if it fails to comply with the mandate, which will be in full effect on January 1, 2014. The university has less than 100 students currently enrolled, but employs about 140 employees, which, according to the complaint, would leave the university facing approximately $7 million in fines for failing to comply.
The university is expected to ask for an injunction to block enforcement of the mandate this week.