Diverse coalition affirms freedom for non-profit religious groups, opposes harsh govt mandates

Numerous briefs filed with US Supreme Court in opposition to Obama administration’s abortion-pill mandate
Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Attorney sound bite:  David Cortman

WASHINGTON – A broad array of groups and states – including more than 200 members of Congress and 20 states – filed briefs this week with the U.S. Supreme Court in opposition to the Obama administration’s abortion-pill mandate and its religious non-profit compliance mechanism, which forces the groups to violate their faith. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent a Christian college and four Christian universities in Geneva College v. Burwell and Southern Nazarene University v. Burwell, two of seven cases that the Supreme Court agreed in November of last year to take up.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception through their health plans under threat of heavy penalties. Geneva College in Pennsylvania and the four universities in Oklahoma – Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Mid-America Christian University – specifically object to providing abortifacients.

“The administration continues to impose the same unacceptable choice: obey and abandon your freedom, or resist and be punished,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman. “The Obama administration has offered no option to religious non-profits that allows them to act consistent with their faith. As the briefs filed today urge, the Supreme Court should rule in accord with its Hobby Lobby/Conestoga decision and ensure that people of faith are not punished for making choices consistent with that faith.”

“The administration is forcing the schools to choose between following their faith and following the government’s rule,” added ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor. “That is utterly inconsistent with legal protections for religious liberty, just as the briefs filed today rightly argue.”

ADF attorneys and allied attorneys represented Conestoga Wood Specialties and its owners in their victory against the abortion-pill mandate at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014. While that case addressed the mandate as it applies to for-profit family-run businesses, these cases pertain to the mandate as applied to non-profit organizations. Although the administration argues that executing and submitting a so-called “accommodation” form insulates religious nonprofits from providing abortifacients, ADF attorneys and the briefs filed today explain that is not the case because the form still directly involves the Christian colleges in providing abortifacients in multiple ways.

Among the parties submitting briefs in support of the Christian colleges and other non-profits are more than 200 members of Congress, 20 states, numerous legal experts and theologians, and a broad spectrum of religious groups and denominations.

ADF attorneys and allied attorneys are also litigating numerous other lawsuits against the mandate.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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Friend-of-the-court briefs filed with U.S. Supreme Court