Luther Strange “disappointed” by appeals court ruling in religious liberty case, vows to fight on

Attorney General of Alabama Luther Strange

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said he was disappointed by a recent federal appellate panel’s decision in a religious liberties case involving broadcast company Eternal Word Television Network, where the Catholic network sought exemptions from a contraception coverage mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

EWTN, based in Birmingham, lost their appeal 2-1 on Thursday in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The prevailing justices ruled the firm must provide contraception coverage to their employees, regardless of their convictions against the practice contraception, which is prohibited in orthodox Catholic doctrine.

Strange, however, pointed to another upcoming case whose outcome could vindicate the broadcasters’ court defeat.

“I am disappointed in the ruling but the battle to defend religious liberty from federal assault continues as Alabama and 19 other states have joined a similar lawsuit, “Zubik v. Burwell,” before the U.S. Supreme Court this year,” said Strange. “Religious nonprofits like EWTN provide a tremendous service to the public and have no less a constitutional right to exercise their religious beliefs than an individual citizen.”

The state of Alabama was a co-plaintiff in EWTN’s case against the federal government’s infringement upon the liberty of religious nonprofits and supported its appeal when a lower court first ruled against them in 2014.

Though there are fines associated EWTN’s non-compliance with the law, they have so far been spared having to pay them by an court injunction, pending the outcome by the Zubik case. That decision was also announced Thursday.