The furor over the Obama Administration’s oppressive HHS mandate rages on as seven states file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of new contraceptive regulations that will force religious institutions to provide insurance for practices that violate their consciences.
Reuters is reporting that Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas along with Catholic Social Services, a Catholic high school, and a Catholic insurance group have filed suit to fight new rules issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requiring religious institutions to offer free birth control to their employees.
They maintain that the administration’s rule is an “unprecedented invasion” of their “First Amendment rights to free speech, free exercise of religion and free association.”
The lawsuit is the fifth and largest so far against Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who confirmed on Feb. 10 that many religious institutions would be forced to underwrite “preventive services” as part of federal health-care reform.
The suit comes after President Obama, who is engaged in a tough re-election battle, tried to stem the outrage over the mandate by proposing what he called an “accommodation,” but legal experts say it amounted to nothing more than a smokescreen behind which there was no improvement in the oppressive legislation. As a result, attorneys in key battleground states such as Ohio and Michigan joined the suit, which is sure to keep the issue alive through election day.
“Any rule, regulation or law that forces faith-based institutions to provide for services that violate their free exercise of religion, or that penalizes them for failing to kneel at the altar of government, is a flat-out violation of the First Amendment,” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement.
The 25-page lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Nebraska on Feb. 23, argued that the regulations “represent an unprecedented encroachment on the liberty of religious organization employers” and that the religious exemption offered is “insufficiently narrow.”
A spokesman from the Justice Department was not available for comment.
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