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Judge, Notre Dame attorney spar over law's contraception mandate

Feb. 13, 2014 at 2:53 PM   |   Comments

CHICAGO, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- A U.S. appeals judge and a lawyer for the University of Notre Dame clashed verbally over the federal health care law's contraception mandate, officials say.

U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Posner and attorney Matthew Kairis repeatedly talked over each other during oral arguments before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals about the provision, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday.

At one point Posner, a member of the three-judge panel hearing the lawsuit by the university, told Kairis to "stop fencing with me."

Posner told the attorney he would have to stop his presentation if he continued to interrupt or failed to directly answer the judge's questions.

Notre Dame sued the Department of Health and Human Services last year over a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires the university to provide insurance that includes coverage for contraception.

The law allows religious employers to contract with third parties to provide coverage, but Notre Dame contends the provision still violates Catholic teaching.

A judge ruled against Notre Dame's lawsuit in December, and the university appealed to the 7th Circuit.

Mark Stern, an attorney for the government, said the university's contractor had made it "absolutely clear" the university was not providing the coverage.

Ayesha Khan, an attorney for three female students who intervened in the suit, charged the university didn't object to the contraception provision until a conservative alumni group called the Sycamore Trust protested.

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