The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today denied Thomas Aquinas College’s challenge to the HHS mandate that requires Catholic employers to facilitate the availability of free contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization services to their employees.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in this summer’s case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the federal government amended the mandate. Under the government’s latest “accommodation,” the College would be required to notify the Department of Health and Human Services of its objections to providing such coverage, while also furnishing the name and contact information of its plan administrator. The government, in turn, would arrange with the administrator to provide for the provision of the coverage.

“The revised accommodation does not address the College’s concerns,” says Thomas Aquinas College President Michael F. McLean. “The College’s notification would still be the ‘trigger’ for the provision of the objectionable coverage, and the College would still be materially cooperating in the provision of coverage for morally objectionable procedures and medications.” Consequently, in September the College and its co-plaintiffs — The Catholic University of America, the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., Priests for Life, and others — elected to continue the challenge of the mandate that they filed last year. That challenge contends that the mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In its ruling today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided with the government’s argument that the latest “accommodation” is sufficient to ward off religious-freedom objections. That verdict is one of several, sometimes conflicting, rulings issued by various courts across the country. “We disagree with the opinion of the D.C. Court of Appeals in our challenge to the HHS contraceptive mandate, and we will be appealing it to the United States Supreme Court,” says Dr. McLean. “We look forward to vindicating our religious liberty rights there.”