1976 • 2016
AROUND THE COUNCIL
The News of the CCCU
Advancing Christian Higher Education
CCCU FILES AMICUS BRIEFS TO US SUPREME COURT IN TWO CASES ZUBIK V. BURWELL On Jan. 11, the CCCU filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of five member institutions that are challenging the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive and abortifacient mandate for their employee and student healthcare plans. Though only five are included in the case, a total of 19 CCCU institutions have sued on this matter. “Many of our members, including the five involved in this case, have been concerned about the mandate since it was first released in 2011. The CCCU has continually advocated that the administration should expand its exemption to protect the rights of our institutions, which do not currently qualify for exemption despite their sincerely held religious beliefs,” says CCCU President Shirley V. Hoogstra. “Since the administration has refused to do so, our hope is that the Supreme Court will require them to.” In November 2015, the Court agreed to hear an appeal from several religious
Photo by Morgan C. Feddes.
Students from Geneva College, one of the five CCCU institutions included in Zubik v. Burwell.
nonprofit organizations challenging the contraceptive and abortifacient mandate. Seven cases were consolidated, including one from East Texas Baptist University and Houston Baptist University, another from Oklahoma Baptist University and Southern Nazarene University, and a third from Geneva College. In June 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the final rules of the mandate, which included guidelines for an exemption for certain religious organizations and an accommodation to others. The exemption is only for “churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions of associations of churches,” which excludes a majority of religious schools, nonprofits, hospitals and other organizations. The accommodation allows organizations to notify its insurers that they object to the mandated contraceptive services. The insurers will then make the payments for these services to the employees, thus failing to address the religious concerns the mandate creates for religious organizations because it does not remove them from the provision of the services altogether. “Following the oral arguments, it seems unlikely that a divided court of 4-4 will apply the full exemption to religious organizations such as CCCU institutions, but we are hopeful they will at least expand the scope of the accommodation to fully remove any role by the institutions in providing products or services that violate their religious beliefs,” says Shapri D. LoMaglio, vice president for government and external relations.
TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH V. PAULEY On April 21, the CCCU joined the Association of Catholic Colleges & Universities, Brigham Young University and seven of its members in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a church challenging a lower court ruling that limited its access to government funding. The Trinity Lutheran Church Learning Center in Columbia, Missouri, applied for a grant from the state of Missouri’s scrap tire program in order to upgrade its gravel and grass playground with material made from scrap tires. They were deemed the fifth most qualified applicant out of 44, but, referencing the Missouri Blaine Amendment, the state denied the grant solely because the Learning Center is religiously affiliated. The church appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the denial. For decades, state Blaine Amendments have been used to discriminate against religious organizations by denying them access to generally available government funding solely because they are religious. “This case is crucially important,” Hoogstra says, “as it will answer the question of whether the government can discriminate based on religion, or whether they must be neutral arbiters of the law. CCCU campuses, as well as all religious institutions, should be allowed to compete for government funding on equal grounds, and decisions about who receives the funding should be made solely on the merits of which recipient will best use this money to benefit the public. It is the Supreme Court’s duty to protect religious institutions' ability to serve their communities in accordance with their faith.” ADVANCE | SPRING 2016