Andrew Farkaswikipedia
Andrew Farkaswikipedia

Catholic organizations in Wyoming want federal court to block the scheduled July implementation of the Affordable Care Act because contraception-related mandates by  third-party insurers would violate church teachings.

Attorney Paul Hickey filed the motion for preliminary injunction last week for the Diocese of Cheyenne, which covers all Wyoming, and other plaintiffs. The motion follows their late January lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and other defendants.

Hickey declined to comment, referring to the arguments in the motion he filed.

The Wyoming Catholic plaintiffs include St. Anthony's Tri-Parish School in Casper and the Wyoming Catholic College in Lander

The federal government created an exemption for plans sponsored by "so-called 'religious employers,." The motion for the injunction claims that exemption is defined "to protect only 'the unique relationship between a house of worship and its employees in ministerial positions.'"

However, ministries of the diocese include educational and charitable services outside the scope of "a house of worship," according to the motion.

The Catholic Diocese's motion stated federal courts have sided with nonprofit entities in 18 of 19 similar cases.

The motion also preceded this week's hearing before the U.S. Supreme  Court in which attorneys for the Hobby Lobby store chain and other businesses argued the ACA -- nicknamed "Obamacare" -- would require their managements to violate their religious beliefs by hiring health insurers that would offer employees certain kinds of birth control..

Federal government attorneys have responded that allowing Hobby Lobby to gain this exemption would allow a commercial employer the ability to exercise his right to religious freedom over the rights of employees. For example, an employer could claim his religious belief would not allow him to use a third-party insurer that offers vaccinations.

In the motion for preliminary injunction, Hickey wrote that Hobby Lobby's arguments, and a U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of the corporation, would further strengthen the position of the Diocese of Cheyenne and the other plaintiffs.

The U.S. Attorney for Wyoming has until April 15 to file its response. U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl will hold a hearing for the preliminary injunction motion at 1 p.m. May 7 in federal court in Casper.

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