In a thrilling match that captured the nation's attention last weekend, the Kentucky–Notre Dame Men's NCAA Basketball tournament was a closely contested March Madness match that saw Kentucky end Notre Dame's quest for the 2015 NCAA Championship. The Kentucky Wildcats narrowly edged out Notre Dame's Fighting Irish with a 68-66 win.
While Kentucky heads to the Final Four with an incredible record of 38-0, there's still good news to report from Notre Dame's top-notch athletics department.
Yesterday, three members of Notre Dame's Women's basketball team made headlines for earning All-American Honors. Junior guard Jewell Loyd unanimously received first team All-American accolades from three outlets including the Associated Press, while two other players received honorable mentions. This makes it the fifth consecutive year Notre Dame's Women's basketball players have earned this national recognition.
It's a testament to not only the school's drive for excellence, but a strong adherence to its mission as a Catholic institution of higher learning: to provide a forum where, through free inquiry and open discussion, the various lines of Catholic thought may intersect with all the forms of knowledge found in the arts, sciences, professions, and every other area of human scholarship and creativity.
With convictions rooted in 170 years of rich tradition, the University of Notre Dame recently reissued a challenge to the Affordable Care Act – specifically, the portion of the law requiring employers provide healthcare coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and methods.
The Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision in June 2014 allowed some companies to opt-out of certain abortion-related requirements of Obamacare; only three months later, Notre Dame appealed to the Court to revisit the issue of contraception coverage and religious liberties.
On March 9, 2015 the Supreme Court reversed a 2-to-1 decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which had required the university to comply with the Obama Administration's contraception mandate… or face massive financial penalties.
With their case resurrected in the 7th Circuit Court, Notre Dame can stand true to their religious convictions as they argue that complying with the mandate would be in direct violation of their Catholic faith. The private religious university asserts that, under the U.S. Constitution, it cannot be forced to provide abortion-inducing contraception to employees and students on its health insurance plans.
Similar to the Catholic TV network case EWTN v. Burwell, the Notre Dame case is an important bellwether in the fight to preserve religious liberties in the Obamacare era.
"Notre Dame continues to challenge the federal mandate as an infringement on our fundamental right to the free exercise of our Catholic faith," declared Paul Browne, Vice President of Communications for the University of Notre Dame.
Representing Notre Dame in court, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty notes that over 750 plaintiffs in numerous nonprofit cases are currently granted protection from this unconstitutional mandate – which requires many religious organizations comply or suffer egregious IRS penalties.
Senior Counsel of The Becket Fund Mark Rienzi stated that the decision to revisit the case "is a major blow to the federal government's contraception mandate."
He continued: "For the past year, the Notre Dame decision has been the centerpiece of the government's effort to force religious ministries to violate their beliefs or pay fines to the IRS. As with the Supreme Court's decisions in Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby, this is a strong signal that the Supreme Court will ultimately reject the government's narrow view of religious liberty."
The Fighting Irish are making their tenacious spirit and unwavering convictions heard as they issue a clarion call to action for the unborn. They have made a steadfast commitment to be a voice crying out in the wilderness of injustice, seeking to show how religious liberties benefit all citizens.
As the 7th Circuit Court reconsiders this case, we are mindful and prayerful that the outcome could further impact further abortion-related contraception cases across America.