Two More Religious Liberty Lawsuits Filed Against Obamacare Mandate
Sarah Torre /
The Obamacare anti-conscience mandate has suffered two more blows this week.
The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) announced it has filed legal complaints on behalf of two private, religiously affiliated schools, each opposing the Obamacare mandate that forces almost all employers to provide health insurance coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization, without a co-pay. The schools, both affiliated with Protestant denominations, join a growing list of diverse religious employers who are challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare’s anti-conscience mandate.
Today, Geneva College, a private institution in Pennsylvania associated with the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, held a press conference announcing it has filed a lawsuit against the Obama Administration over the mandate’s infringement on religious liberty.
The college takes issue with the mandate’s requirement to provide health insurance coverage of drugs like Plan B and ella, which can sometimes cause abortions in early pregnancy, at no cost to the insured. To effectively subsidize chemical abortions violates the college’s deeply held moral and religious beliefs and runs roughshod over the institution’s religious liberty and conscience rights.
“The government shouldn’t be able to force anyone to buy or sell insurance that subsidizes morally objectionable treatments,” said Geneva College President Ken Smith.
While the lawsuits filed this week focus on the mandate’s threat to religious freedom, the violations of liberty enabled by Obamacare’s unprecedented federal overreach could extend far beyond religious institutions.
“People of faith shouldn’t be punished by the state for following that faith in making decisions for themselves or their organizations,” said Greg Baylor, senior counsel at ADF. “Every American should know that a government with the power to do this to anyone can do this—and worse—to everyone.”
The Alliance Defense Fund also filed suit against the Obama Administration over the weekend on behalf of Louisiana College, a small Southern Baptist school located in the middle of the state. Like Geneva College and many others, Louisiana College holds deep moral objections to abortion and cannot in good conscience subsidize health insurance coverage of drugs that can end a pregnancy.
With an offensively narrow religious exemption that will cover only some formal houses of worship, the mandate leaves many religious employers who hold moral objections to abortion and contraception without recourse. The mandate places the many non-exempted religious employers, like Geneva College and Louisiana College, in an untenable situation: forced either to violate their beliefs by providing coverage of morally objectionable services or forgo providing employee health insurance altogether and pay hefty fines for doing so.
“The time for silence is over,” said Louisiana College President Dr. Joe W. Aguillard, according to a press release. “Louisiana College will not sit by and allow this or any government to usurp our God-given religious freedoms and our time-honored Baptist heritage.”
Louisiana College’s legal complaint argues that the mandate’s coercive requirement and lack of a robust religious exemption infringe on the school’s First Amendment rights to free exercise and free speech and Fifth Amendment right to due process. In addition to constitutional violations, Alliance Defense Fund argues, the mandate also defies existing federal laws including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
With ADF’s two lawsuits and a legal complaint filed today from Ave Maria University (the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty’s fourth lawsuit on the issue), there are now six constitutional challenges pending against Obamacare’s coercive anti-conscience mandate.
The anti-conscience mandate’s violation of employers’ religious freedom is only the beginning of the law’s profound threat to limited government and personal liberty. Obamacare represents an unprecedented federal overreach into the health care decisions of employers, employees, and individuals—religiously affiliated or not—and further implementation of the law will only increase conflicts between government regulations and individual liberty. The lawsuits filed this week reinforce the need to protect religious liberty specifically and personal liberty more generally by repealing Obamacare.