The U.S. Department of Justice asked a federal district court this week to dismiss a lawsuit challenging a federal mandate for all employers to provide insurance that covers contraceptives and possible abortifacient drugs for workers.
According to the lawsuit, filed jointly by six state attorneys general, the Obama administration is violating the First Amendment by requiring church-affiliated schools, hospitals and other programs to provide the coverage.
The Justice Department sought dismissal based on the Obama administration’s decision not to enforce the mandate until August 2013 — nine months after the presidential election — saying the delay provides a “safe harbor” while the rules are being reviewed.
“With such a long time before the inception of any possible injury and the challenged regulations undergoing amendment, plaintiff cannot satisfy the imminence requirement for standing (to bring the lawsuit),” Justice Department officials told the U.S. District Court in Nebraska.
Though religious organizations and conservative groups raised the alarm about conscience violations in the law well over a year ago, President Obama said in February the only concession they’d receive is an extra year to figure out how to comply with the contraception mandate. All other businesses nationwide are required to offer the insurance coverage by this August.
The Obama administration offered to shift the requirement from the employers to the health insurance companies, a move which failed to address the overriding legal and moral issues.
“ObamaCare’s latest mandate tramples the First Amendment’s freedom of religion and compels people of faith to act contrary to their convictions,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, one of the plaintiffs in the case, told CitizenLink today.
“The president’s so-called ‘accommodation’ was nothing but a shell game. The mandate still requires religious organizations to subsidize and authorize conduct that conflicts with their religious principles. The very first amendment to our Constitution was intended to protect against this sort of government intrusion into our religious convictions.”
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, who is leading the suit, told The Associated Press the move to dismiss is nothing more than a ploy to push implementation past the November election.
“Regardless of the continuous promises of change offered by this administration, the results are nothing more than bait and switch,” he said.
The other states represented in the suit are Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Carolina. In addition, three Nebraska Catholic organizations, a nun and a missionary are plaintiffs in the case.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the lawsuit brought by the state attorneys general.
Read Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s February statement on filing the lawsuit.