Three Christian universities have garnered support from 16 states in their fight against the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that requires for-profit companies to cover birth control in their health insurance offerings.
The states, along with several religious rights organizations, filed friend of the court briefs with the Supreme Court in support of Houston Baptist University, East Texas Baptist University, and Westminster Theological Seminary’s appeal to overturn a circuit court ruling that forces them to expand contraception options in their health insurance plans.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a law firm representing the three schools, said the amicus brief was a step in the right direction.
“This strong show of support for HBU and ETBU (and Westminster Theological Seminary) demonstrates just how important it is that the Supreme Court address the impact of the HHS mandate, particularly on religious groups,” said Diana Verm, Legal Counsel at the Becket Fund, in a statement. “It is especially significant that the 16 state governments are supporting HBU and ETBU at the Supreme Court.”
According to the Becket Fund, the 16 states are Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
The schools argue that the 5th Circuit Court ruling, which concluded that the plaintiffs don’t have the right to challenge the conduct of third-party insurers offering contraceptive coverage to their employees, violates their religious freedom.
The Becket Fund added in its statement that the schools were being forced to comply with the healthcare mandate in violation of their faith, or they would be subjected to millions of dollars in fines from the IRS.
Several other organizations, including the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, and 181 members of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities.