Attorney General Coordinates Lawsuit Against Obama Mandate

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 8, 2012   |   2:38PM   |   Washington, DC

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning is coordinating a legal challenge against the controversial Obama mandate requiring religious employers to cover birth control and drugs that can cause abortions.

Bruning says he is contacting fellow state attorneys general to put together a lawsuit against the Obama administration over the mandate and he sent a letter to his 49 colleagues looking for some of them to sign on to the lawsuit.

“This new mandate provides no exemption for religious affiliated hospitals, universities and charitable institutions. This is clearly a violation of the First Amendment,” he says in the letter, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.

“I have pledged to coordinate an AG-led lawsuit to stop this direct challenge to religious liberty,” Bruning said. “I have been in contact with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who welcome and appreciate any assistance we can provide.”

He said it “unconstitutionally expands congressional authority and infringes upon individual liberty.”

Meanwhile, National Center for Public Policy Research Adjunct Fellow Horace Cooper is criticizing HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for pushing the new health care mandate saying it is unconstitutional and would fail in court.

“The new HHS rule represents a radical departure from the traditional treatment of religious organizations in America,” the legal commentator who taught constitutional law at George Mason University says. “If the White House doesn’t overturn this regulation, the Courts will.”

Cooper notes that a unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed relevant religious freedom protections only a few weeks ago in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church v. EEOC.

“This regulation is a cruel use of federal power that rejects over 200 years of understanding about religious freedom in America,” said Cooper. “It furthermore threatens our long-held belief that all Americans may worship and serve God free from governmental interference. This assault on religious liberty is shockingly out of touch with the value that Americans place on their religious freedom, the Founding principles of the First Amendment, and a litany of legal precedent that was reaffirmed by a unanimous Supreme Court only a few weeks ago.”

“No American, employer or worker, should be forced to choose between their religious precepts and obedience to the law,” added Cooper. “It’s beyond bizarre to argue that the only way to ensure that the ‘morning after’ pill or other abortifacients are available is to force religious organizations to pay for them.”

“And the so-called religious exemption is an insult masquerading as a joke,” Cooper said. “Indeed, many Christians may wonder whether even Jesus’ earthly ministry would satisfy the Administration’s ham-fisted exemption requirements.”

Cooper explains that religious schools, charities, and health care providers will be forced to choose between the moral dictates of their conscience and creed, or following the President’s health care mandate-of-the-month. Such a choice is antithetical to the freedom of religion rooted in our constitutional tradition, and the fundamental protections of the First Amendment, Cooper says.

Cooper is an adjunct fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, a member of the African-American leadership group Project 21 and a legal commentator. He taught constitutional law at George Mason University in Virginia and was general counsel to U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

Cooper’s new paper, “The Birth Control Mandate is Unconstitutional,” is available online at

Meanwhile, Speaker John Boehner took to the House floor to give a rare speech pledging that House Republicans will do everything possible to reverse the new mandate the Obama administration put in place forcing coverage of birth control and abortion-causing drugs.

The Obama administration is reportedly considering a compromise on its new mandate that has caused national outrage because it forces religious employers to cover birth control and drugs that may cause abortions. However, the leading pro-life spokesman for the Catholic bishops says the compromise may be worse.

Congressman Steve Scalise has led a bipartisan letter with 154 co-signers calling on the Obama Administration to reverse its unconstitutional mandate forcing religious organizations to include drugs that can cause abortion and birth control in the health care plans of their employees.

Bishops across the country have spoken out against the mandate and are considering a lawsuit against it — with bishops in more than 164 locations across the United States issuing public statements against it or having letters opposing it printed in diocesan newspaper or read from the pulpit.

“We cannot — we will not comply with this unjust law,” said the letter from Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix. “People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens.”

Responding to the announcement, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated: “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.”

“To force Americans to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. . . It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom,” he added.

The mandate is so egregious that even the normally reliably liberal and pro-abortion USA Today condemned it in an editorial titled, “Contraception mandate violates religious freedom.”

The administration initially approved a recommendation from the Institute of Medicine suggesting that it force insurance companies to pay for birth control and drugs that can cause abortions under the Obamacare government-run health care program.

The IOM recommendation, opposed by pro-life groups, called for the Obama administration to require insurance programs to include birth control — such as the morning after pill or the ella drug that causes an abortion days after conception — in the section of drugs and services insurance plans must cover under “preventative care.” The companies will likely pass the added costs on to consumers, requiring them to pay for birth control and, in some instances, drug-induced abortions of unborn children in their earliest days.

The HHS accepted the IOM guidelines that “require new health insurance plans to cover women’s preventive services” and those services include “FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling” — which include birth control drugs like Plan B and ella that can cause abortions. The Health and Human Services Department commissioned the report from the Institute, which advises the federal government and shut out pro-life groups in meetings leading up to the recommendations.