Judge boots Notre Dame's case against birth-control mandate

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He also said Notre Dame's inclusion in a safe-harbor period works against its case.

"Notre Dame lacks standing to attack the present regulatory requirement because it isn't subject to that requirement, and, taking the defendants at their word, never will be subject to the present regulation," Miller wrote.

Under the policy, which came as part of President Obama's signature healthcare law, most employers must cover a range of birth-control methods in their health plans without cost-sharing.

Churches and houses of worship are exempt, and employees of religiously affiliated institutions such as Catholic schools will receive birth control directly from their insurers.

The question is more complicated for religious institutions that self-insure and pay all employee health claims.

The Health and Human Services (HHS) Department has promised that religious schools will not have to provide birth control to students. It is still deciding how the policy will work for employees of institutions like Notre Dame.

The school's student plan is operated and partly paid for by Aetna. Notre Dame self-insures when it comes to employees, however.

Miller's decision comes at a busy time for challenges against the birth-control policy.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor rejected a request for an emergency injunction against the mandate last week. The request came from Hobby Lobby, a for-profit arts-and-crafts chain.