DOJ: Hobby Lobby ruling clears college from contraceptive mandate

The Obama administration is trying to get a case brought against it by an evangelical college mandating contraception coverage thrown out in the Supreme Court, citing Monday’s Hobby Lobby ruling.

Wheaton College in Illinois is suing the Department of Health and Human Services for mandating contraception coverage under ObamaCare as an infringement on its religious rights.

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However, the Justice Department wrote to the Supreme Court Wednesday, saying it is clear from the court’s Hobby Lobby opinion that Wheaton College falls under the “accommodation” category and is free to use a third-party insurer to provide contraception coverage.

“But unlike the employers in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores ... applicant is already free to opt out of providing or arranging contraceptive coverage under religious accommodations that ‘effectively exempt’ it from the relevant requirement,” Solicitor General Donald Verrilli wrote.

“Applicant need only self-certify that it is eligible for the accommodations and inform its insurance issuers and third party administrator. By doing so, it will avoid any requirement that it ‘contract, arrange, pay, or refer for contraceptive coverage’ to which it objects,” he added.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell that for-profit companies with religous objections can opt out of providing providing contraception coverage under ObamaCare.

Wheaton College says the accommodation to use a third-party insurer violates its rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 

It argues that allowing third-party insurers to provide contraception, who are then reimbursed by the federal government, is an endorsement of a system that it has religious objections to. 

Verrilli, however, says Wheaton College’s argument “lacks merit” and it should not be allowed to “veto” what happens between third party insurers and the federal government.