Attorney General Jon Bruning and six other state attorneys general have filed a lawsuit requesting a permanent injunction of a federal regulation that would force religious-affiliated organizations to include contraception in employee health care plans.
Included in the filing are co-plaintiffs Pius X Catholic High School, Catholic Social Services, The Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America and private citizens Stacy Molai and Sister Mary Catherine, CK. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has complained that the federal regulation issued by the Department of Health and Human Services violates its First Amendment rights, because the Catholic Church opposes contraception on religious grounds. HHS has ruled that all employee health care plans must cover contraception.
“This regulation forces millions of Americans to choose between following religious convictions and complying with federal law,” said Bruning in a written statement issued by his office. “This violation of the 1st Amendment is a threat to every American, regardless of religious faith. We will not stand idly by while our constitutionally-guaranteed liberties are discarded by an administration that has sworn to uphold them.”
The lawsuit focuses on the First Amendment complaint. It alleges the rule infringes upon the constitutional right of religious liberty by requiring religious-affiliated organizations to purchase services that run contrary to their stated beliefs. The covered services mandated by the rule include contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacients, according to the attorney general’s office.
The lawsuit claims the ruling exceeds the powers of the federal government under the First Amendment n and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
On February 10, 2012, Attorney General Bruning drafted and sent a letter signed by 13 state attorneys general to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis requesting the employer rule be rescinded. The lawsuit denies a compromise proposed by President Barack Obama satisfies the complaints raised about the rule.
Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas joined Nebraska in the challenge.