State of Alabama joins lawsuit defending religious liberty from federal assault

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Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange announced yesterday that the state has joined with 19 other states in filing a “friend of the court brief” to support the right of religious non-profits to “follow their religious beliefs,” according to a press release.

The document was filed in response to the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act, also know as “Obamacare.”

“Americans’ ability to exercise their religious beliefs – a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution – is unfortunately under assault from a federal government determined to sacrifice our rights to further its political goals,” Strange said in the press release. “By compelling religious nonprofit groups to provide contraceptive coverage, the president’s Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, forces them to institute practices that are at odds with their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin filed the amicus brief in the Zubik v. Burwell case on Monday.

The Zubik v. Burwell case asserted that the contraception mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and called for exceptions to the mandate to be made for religious organizations.

This is not the first time that Alabama has signed on to an amicus bill of this type, the state has previously fought the contraception mandate in the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Burwell, East Texas Baptist University v. Burwell and Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) v. Burwell cases.

A federal court ruled against EWTN, an Alabama-based Catholic television network, in June 2014, but Alabama appealed the ruling to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and EWTN was granted a stay from federal fines due to ignoring the mandate while the case is under review.

Michelle Johnson, Director of Communications for EWTN, noted that being Catholic is not a requirement for employment with the company.

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