Justice Department attorney Brad Humphreys argued the Nashville case is not different from others that have been dismissed.
"It's hard to see how a court could even evaluate whether a rule that's under amendment and that's not being enforced violates plaintiffs' rights," he said.
If the three Marys are providing contraceptive coverage that they have a religious objection to, he suggested the problem was with their insurance company, not the government.
U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell did not immediately rule on the issue.
The contraceptive mandate does not apply to nonprofits that are deemed to be religious employers, typically actual churches or other houses of worship. It does apply to religious-based institutions that do not primarily serve and employ only members of their own faith group — such as hospitals and universities.