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Obamacare round II: States, Catholics sue HHS, again

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Ken Klukowski

Seven states have now joined with Catholic employers suing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over the Obamacare free birth control coverage mandate.

This issue is developing in a fashion similar that seen in action filed by 26 states the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and multiple  individuals challenging Obamacare’s individual mandate and Medicaid expansion.

That case, NFIB v. Sebelius, will be heard at the U.S. Supreme Court on Mar. 26, 27, and 28. It will be one of the longest oral argument session ever in the High Court.

This new lawsuit was just filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska. The states involved are Nebraska, South Carolina, Michigan, Texas, Florida, Ohio, and Oklahoma. With them are two individuals of the Catholic faith and three Catholic organizations.

It’s not entirely clear that the states have standing to sue here. They’re asserting that they have standing because of their Medicaid programs.

The states argue that if Catholic healthcare providers cancel their insurance policies to avoid the new (and grossly unconstitutional) contraceptive mandate, some of those newly-uninsured people will enroll in the states’ Medicaid systems, increasing the cost on the states.

This may be enough to allow the case to go forward as-is. If not, then a federal judge will dismiss the states, but surely allow the case to go forward with the Catholic citizens and organizations.

Of course, if the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate and holds it nonseverable from the rest of the statute—thereby striking down all 2,700 pages of Obamacare - then the HHS birth control coverage mandate will fall with it.

Examiner legal contributor Ken Klukowski is on faculty at Liberty University School of Law and a fellow at the Family Research Council.

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