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Posts tagged ‘Notre Dame’

Obamacare Lawsuits Mount as Notre Dame Joins Scrum of Opponents.

Hours after the University of Notre Dame filed a religious challenge to the U.S. health-care overhaul in Indiana federal court, a judge in Washington heard arguments in a lawsuit assailing tax provisions of the statute.

The cases underscore the persistent and diverse nature of legal attacks on the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act even as the Obama administration struggles to fix bugs in, the online marketplace for health insurance created by the measure.

Obamacare litigation continues partly because questions about its legitimacy as a piece partisan legislation are unresolved, said Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington and an opponent of the act. The statute passed Congress without Republican support in either the House or Senate.

It doesn’t matter what motivates the plaintiffs bringing those challenges as long as “their legal arguments are sound, because that’s what the courts are looking at,” Shapiro said.

The suit in Washington, in which a federal judge yesterday heard arguments for an immediate verdict, was brought by seven individuals and businesses from six states. At least three similar complaints have been filed in Oklahoma, Virginia and Indiana. All challenge some of the federal government’s authority to offer tax credits to subsidize health insurance for poor people under Obamacare.

Catholic Teaching

The complaint Notre Dame filed yesterday, alleging that the law’s requirement health plans cover birth control violates Roman Catholic teaching, is a re-filing of a lawsuit dismissed in December on procedural grounds.

The Notre Dame case is among 86 lawsuits attacking Obamacare on religious grounds, according to Erin Mersino, trial counsel at the Thomas More Law Center, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, a Christian-based public interest law firm.

Forty-one of the cases involve primarily Catholic nonprofit groups such as Notre Dame and take issue with the birth control mandate, Mersino said. The other 46 were brought by for-profit entities whose owners argue the contraception provision violates their religious freedom, she said.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 26 agreed to hear two cases from the for-profit group involving the craft store chain Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. They, too, claim an exemption from covering employees’ birth control on religious grounds.

First Look

The dispute will be the court’s first look at President Barack Obama’s biggest legislative accomplishment since a majority of the justices upheld the core of the law in 2012.

The court on Dec. 2 declined to hear an appeal by Liberty University, a Virginia school founded by the late evangelical preacher and activist Jerry Falwell, which lost a lower-court case arguing the law’s employer mandate exceeded Congress’s power over interstate commerce.

The suits by nonprofit religious groups are less advanced in the courts because the Obama administration delayed the birth control mandate for a year as it sought an accommodation with them.

While the religious cases have drawn attention because of their number and high-profile plaintiffs such as Notre Dame and the Archdiocese of Washington, they don’t threaten the viability of Obamacare, according to Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, and a consumer representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

“They’re challenges to one particular part of one particular regulation,” Jost said. “They’re very important cases, but I don’t think they mean much for the Affordable Care Act.”

The tax cases, involving federal subsidies to people shopping for insurance on government-run marketplaces, or exchanges, present a “significant challenge” to the law because, if successful, they could prevent millions of people from buying coverage, Jost said.

Plaintiffs in those suits argue the language of the health- care legislation allows subsidies only for people using state- run exchanges, not the federal government’s.

Thirty-three states, including Ohio, Texas and Florida, declined to set up exchanges.

“No legitimate method of statutory construction would interpret the phrase ‘established by the state’ in the ACA’s subsidy provisions to mean ‘‘established by the state or federal government,’’ according to a brief filed by plaintiffs in the case argued yesterday in Washington.

Congressional Intent

That argument will probably fail because courts look on laws as a whole, not narrow slices of language, and ‘‘it’s clear Congress meant for the federal exchanges to be treated the same as the states’ exchanges,” Jost said.

Shapiro, of the Cato Institute, said the tax credit cases could “have legs.”

“There’s a very strong technical argument that the challengers are bringing,” Shapiro said. “It’s not some sort of glitch or scriveners’ error. Congress wanted to incentivize states to create these exchanges.”

At least one other case challenges the Affordable Care Act on the grounds that it violates the Constitution’s origination clause, which requires revenue-raising measures to originate in the House, not the Senate.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington in June rejected that argument as made by Matt Sissel, an Iowa man, concluding the challenged bill originated in the House even if it was completely rewritten by the Senate.

The cases are Notre Dame University v. Sebelius, 3:13- cv-01276, U.S. District Court, North District of Indiana (South Bend), and Halbig v. Sebelius, 13-cv-00623, U.S District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Notre Dame Challenges US Contraceptive Mandate in Lawsuit.

abortion pill
Will the Obama administration succeed in causing Catholic institutions to violate their religious beliefs?

The University of Notre Dame filed a lawsuit on Tuesday challenging mandatory coverage of contraception under U.S. federal healthcare laws that it said run contrary to the Catholic university‘sreligious beliefs.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in South Bend, Indiana, followed university discussions with the Obama Administration that sought an expanded exception for schools and universities from the requirement, Notre Dame said.

“This lawsuit is about one of America’s most cherished freedoms: the freedom to practice one’s religion without government interference,” Notre Dame said in the lawsuit filed on Tuesday that asks a judge to block the requirement.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, requires employers to provide health insurance policies with cover preventive services for women including access to contraception and sterilization.

The act makes an exception for religious institutions such as houses of worship that mainly serve and employ members of their own faith, but not schools like Notre Dame, hospitals and charitable organizations that employ people of all faiths.

The Notre Dame lawsuit follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s announcement in November that it would hear appeals from two businesses whose owners said the mandatory coverage of contraception violates their religious beliefs.

Notre Dame had challenged the mandate in May 2012, but a federal judge dismissed that lawsuit because the rules were not yet final. They became final in June.

Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, on Tuesday said in a statement that at its core the lawsuit was about the freedom of a religious organization to live its mission and went beyond a debate about contraceptive services.

Notre Dame’s employee health plan covers about 11,000 people including employees and dependents and a student health program covers about 2,700 people, it said.

The plans do not cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives when they are used to prevent pregnancy, or sterilization. The plans do not appear to meet exceptions allowed for religious entities, Notre Dame said.

Those services will continue to be freely available in the United State outside of Notre Dame, and the university was not seeking to impose its religious beliefs on others.

© 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.


Alleged mastermind of Te’o hoax may tell his story.


LANCASTER, Calif. (AP) — The person cast as the mastermind of the hoax involving Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o may tell his side of the story, a family member said Sunday.

Peter Navy Tuiasosopo, uncle of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, says the family plans to hold a meeting this week to determine when and how his nephew would talk about the bizarre prank.

“We want to do it right,” he said, also noting that the family has hired an attorney. He never directly mentioned the hoax or his nephew being involved.

Te’o insisted he had no role in the hoax involving his “dead” girlfriend and told ESPN on Friday night that he was duped by a person who has since apologized to him.

In an off-camera interview, Te’o identified that person as Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, a 22-year-old acquaintance who lives in California. He said the young man contacted him soon after broke the news on Wednesday. The Deadspin story indicated Ronaiah Tuiasosopo was involved, and suggested Te’o was, too.

“We’re just a family of faith. The family is holding up well,” Peter Navy Tuiasosopo said. “They’re holding up the way I would expect a family to. This is a storm.”

He made the comments after attending a two-hour service at the Oasis Christian Church, where his brother, who is Ronaiah’s father, is pastor.

Titus Tuiasosopo, the father, choked up as he thanked people for their prayers.

“I’ve been practicing how to say ‘no comment’ in 20 languages,” the pastor told his congregation. The family has not commented publicly since news of the hoax broke.

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo wasn’t seen in attendance, and two church members said he was not there.

Earlier in the day, ABC news announced that Te’o would do his first television interview with Katie Couric. The interview will air Thursday on Couric’s daytime talk show and Te’o’s parents will be with him. ABC was not releasing details of when the interview would take place or where.

Also, in a story published in Sunday’s South Bend Tribune, a Notre Dame spokesman said the university decided against disclosing the hoax before the Irish played Alabama in the BCS championship game on Jan. 7 because it wasn’t in the best interest of the teams.

University spokesman Dennis Brown said some school administrators thought they should release what they knew about the hoax when they became aware of it. Te’o went to coaches and school officials with his story on Dec. 26. The school commissioned an investigation that it says confirmed Te’o was not involved. Investigators gave their findings to the school on Jan. 4.

The university officials said the investigators did not examine cellphone records, emails or other electronic communication to determine the length or extent of Te’o’s communication over the past few years with the person claiming to be Lennay Kekua, nor did the university ask Te’o to take a lie detector test.

The school informed Te’o’s parents about the investigation results on Jan. 5.


By TAMI ABDOLLAH | Associated Press

Treetop tents, tear gas: French protest turns ugly.


PARIS (AP) — Protesters squatting in treetop tents and makeshift shelters are battling French riot police trying to expel them from the site of a planned airport in western France.

Officers hurled tear gas projectiles and protesters responded with gas bombs and stones, as the two sides went head to head for a second day over a project that critics say will destroy woodland and cause pollution.

Eight people were arrested Saturday and three were hurt in the fighting, according to the Sipa news agency.

The issue has split the Socialist-led government of Prime MinisterJean-Marc Ayrault, which includes some Green Party members. Ayrault is the longtime mayor of the nearby city of Nantes and has championed the airport plan.


Associated Press

Wearing the Jersey.

Notre Dame Football, perhaps the three most respected words in collegiate athletics. For generations, the Fighting Irish have achieved unparalleled success in the sport. The campus trophy room houses more championship rings and Heisman Trophies than any other school in America. It’s the Fort Knox of sports memorabilia. It’s the story Hollywood has told over and over. The school’s legendary past creates a proud environment for today’s success. Their roster reads like a Who’s Who. The pro teams fight each other for their graduates.

At the beginning of each season, the Notre Dame coaches gather the team together for “The Ceremony of the Jersey.” It’s the event when each new recruit is presented with his game jersey–the number he’ll be wearing for the next four years. At any other school, this would mean little, but at Notre Dame it’s like a visit to the museum. As each player is brought forward to receive his uniform, a scroll is read to reveal all the legends who have worn that number before; their names, awards, honors, and degrees. The final name read for each number is… the new recruit’s. The implication is to “wear it proudly, carry on the tradition, and build on our history.”

The Christian ministry is like that. We follow in a long line of notables. Some we’ve met, others we’ve only heard about. Giants, all. Faithful teachers who have left their mark. They carried their calling like a birthright. Their signature was their message, their godly life was their visual aid. We may not remember their words, but we will never forget their passion.

Every century has produced those kinds of mentors–men and women who’ve fought the good fight, have finished the course, have kept the faith. Indeed, the future holds our “Blessed Hope,” but the past is our “Blessed Legacy”.

*Each time Samuel stood to judge Israel, he carried the tradition of Samson, Gideon, Deborah, and others.

*When seven-year-old Joash became King of Judah, he must have been in awe of the great kings he followed, their devotion, their heroics. With so many to choose from, young Joash chose to model the godly kings. Two hundred years later, eight-year-old Josiah was crowned. His favorite story must have been of the young king who, like him, began to reign while in grammar school. It’s no wonder why Josiah brought revival to the land. He was simply doing what his hero had done. The jersey fit.

*Hebrews 11 is an eternal roster of champions who wore the jersey well, who “lettered” in faith. Their verbal photographs hang throughout the walls of scripture.

Today, our high calling is to pass that jersey on. To entrust that message “to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” As we’ve been led, we lead. As we’ve been taught, we teach. Few thrills compare with the raising up of new recruits. The Philippians were a constant source of encouragement for Paul. They were his earthly reward for making a courageous career move on the road to Damascus. For all the hostile beatings he suffered, the lonely days in prison, the shipwrecks, he would remember “my joy and crown” in Philippi. They were wearing his jersey.

There are many who are trying on our jersey now. The fitting room is every worship center, staff meeting, and counseling session. May they, as you have, wear the jersey with pride. And may your team increase.

By Ron Walters
Senior Vice President Ministry Relations

© Copyright 2012 by Ron Walters

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