Bishop Zubik came under fire for his diocese's handling of sex abuse cases after Shapiro's office in August released a grand jury report on six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, citing allegations of abuse over a span of decades.
The Trump administration's 2017 religious exemptions to the HHS rule were still being litigated in court. A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals three-judge panel on Thursday lifted a district court's preliminary nationwide injunction against the 2017 religious exemptions, but allowed the injunction to stand in the five states that have filed legal challenges.
The majority decision by Ninth Circuit Judge J. Clifford Wallace acknowledged that free exercise of religion and conscience are "undoubtedly, fundamentally important."
"Protecting religious liberty and conscience is obviously in the public interest. However, balancing the equities is not an exact science," the decision continued. The majority said the appellate court lacked sufficient basis "to second-guess the district court and to conclude that its decision was illogical, implausible, or without support in the record."
The decision faulted federal officials for not satisfying the rules of the Administrative Procedure Act, including requirements for public comment on new rules.
A nationwide injunction against the 2017 rules was still in effect in Pennsylvania, however.
Last month the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a 2014 District Court decision against EWTN Global Catholic Network, the parent company of Catholic News Agency, in its lawsuit against the mandate.
Under the terms of the settlement with Department of Health and Human Services, EWTN will not be required to provide contraception, sterilization, or abortifacients through its employee health care plan.