1. This lawsuit is about one of America's most cherished freedoms: the freedom to practice one's religion without government interference. It is not about whether people have a right to abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception. Those services are, and will continue to be, freely available in the United States, and nothing prevents the Government itself from making them more widely available. But the right to such services does not authorize the Government to force the University of Notre Dame ("Notre Dame") to violate its own conscience by making it provide, pay for, and/or facilitate those services to others, contrary to its sincerely held religious beliefs. American history and tradition, embodied in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, protects religious entities from such overbearing and oppressive governmental action. Notre Dame therefore seeks relief in this Court to protect this most fundamental of American rights.
2. This country was founded by those searching for religious liberty and freedom from religious persecution. And since the founding of this country, religious organizations such as Notre Dame have been free to fulfill their religious beliefs through service to all, including the underprivileged and underserved, without regard to the beneficiaries' religious views.
3. The U.S. Constitution and federal statutes protect religious organizations from governmental interference with their religious views—particularly minority religious views. As the Supreme Court has recognized, "[t]he structure of our government has, for the preservation of civil liberty, rescued the temporal institutions from religious interference. On the other hand, it has secured religious liberty from the invasion of civil authority." Through this lawsuit, Notre Dame does not seek to impose its religious beliefs on others. It simply asks that the government not impose its values and policies on Notre Dame, in direct violation of its religious beliefs.
4. Under current federal law described below (the "U.S. Government Mandate"), Notre Dame must provide, or facilitate the provision of, abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraceptive services to its employees in violation of the centuries' old teachings of the Catholic Church. Ignoring broader religious exemptions from other federal laws, the Government has crafted a narrow, discretionary exemption to this U.S. Government Mandate for "religious employers." Group health plans are eligible for the exemption only if they are "established or maintained by religious employers," and only if the "religious employer" can convince the Government that it satisfies four criteria:
- · "The inculcation of religious values is the purpose of the organization";
- · "The organization primarily employs persons who share the religious tenets of the organization";
- · "The organization primarily serves persons who share the religious tenets of the organization"; and
- · "The organization is a nonprofit organization as described in section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended."
Thus, in order to safeguard their religious freedoms, religious employers must plead with the government for a determination that they are sufficiently "religious."
5. Notre Dame's health benefits plans may not qualify for this religious exemption, because, for example, while it is a nonprofit charitable organization that is firmly grounded in the tenets of Catholicism, it appears not to fall within section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii) of the Internal Revenue Code.
6. The U.S. Government Mandate, including the narrow exemption for certain "religious employers," is irreconcilable with the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and other laws. The Government has not shown any compelling need to force Notre Dame to provide, pay for, and/or facilitate access to these objectionable services, or for requiring Notre Dame to submit to an intrusive governmental examination of its religious missions. The Government also has not shown that the U.S. Government Mandate is narrowly tailored to advancing its interest in increased access to these services, since these services are already widely available and nothing prevents the Government from making them even more widely available by providing or paying for them directly through a duly-enacted law. The Government, therefore, cannot justify its decision to force Notre Dame to provide, pay for, and/or facilitate access to these services in violation of its sincerely held religious beliefs.
7. If the Government can force religious institutions to violate their beliefs in such a manner, there is no apparent limit to the Government's power. Such an oppression of religious freedom violates Notre Dame's clearly established constitutional and statutory rights.
8. The First Amendment also prohibits the Government from becoming excessively entangled in religious affairs and from interfering with a religious institution's internal decisions concerning the organization's religious structure, ministers, or doctrine. The U.S. Government Mandate tramples all of these rights.