12 state attorneys general: we will file lawsuit against Obama mandate ‘in weeks, not months’
WASHINGTON, D.C., February 13, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Within weeks, the top lawyers in a dozen states may file a federal lawsuit against the Obama administration’s controversial requirement that all insurance plans include access to abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization, the attorney general of Nebraska told LifeSiteNews.
Jon Bruning told LifeSiteNews.com that 12 states had signed onto a scathing critique of the mandate and were preparing to take more serious action.
On Friday, ten state attorneys general addressed a scathing letter to President Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. “Not only is the proposed contraceptive coverage mandate for religious employers bad policy, it is unconstitutional,” they wrote. “We believe it represents an impermissible violation of the Constitution’s First Amendment virtually unparalleled in American history” and “conflicts with the most basic elements of the freedoms of religion, speech, and association, as provided under the First Amendment.”
They feared the president’s policy would force faithful religious institutions “to cease activities of incalculable value to their employees, constituents, and, indeed, society as a whole.”
“Should this unconstitutional mandate be promulgated, we are prepared to vigorously oppose it in court.”
The attorneys general of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas signed the letter. Bruning told LifeSiteNews two additional states had joined the cause over the weekend.
“This is about much more than contraception. This is about the federal government once again stepping in and trying to tell people how to live their lives,” Bruning said. “I’m very troubled by it – not only troubled, I’m willing to use the litigation power of the state of Nebraska to file yet another lawsuit against the federal government, because it’s really our only option to push back.”
He said he is currently coordinating the next step of action with his fellow AGs.
“I think it will be weeks, not months, before we file a lawsuit,” he said.
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Other signatories voiced their opposition to the mandate.
Last week, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed an amicus brief in pending cases filed by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty on behalf of Belmont Abbey College, Colorado Christian College, and the Eternal World Television Network (EWTN) against the new health care rule.
Bruning said while the group may file its own friend of the court brief to support these cases, “it’s looking like litigation is the only way to stop the Obama administration.”
“When a state or a group of states is involved in litigation,” Bruning told LifeSiteNews, “it carries more weight than any particular private plaintiff, because of the role of that states in our constitutional structure. “
Pam Bondi of Florida, a Tea Party favorite elected in 2010, wrote in a statement e-mailed to LifeSiteNews.com, “I am proud to stand with my colleagues against this latest example of unconstitutional overreach by the Obama administration. All Americans – of any religion, or no religion at all – have a stake in protecting rights of conscience.”
Louisiana’s James D. “Buddy” Caldwell said on Friday, “The federal government simply cannot force individuals and organizations to buy a product that contradicts their religious beliefs. This represents a clear violation of the Constitution’s First Amendment virtually unparalleled in American history.”
“The proposed mandate would clearly be an unconstitutional burden on religious entities that currently provide health care to their employees,” Attorney General Alan Wilson of South Carolina said in a statement. “Such an action would be an unprecedented and troubling coercion of organizations and individuals to act contrary to their religious beliefs.”
Bruning, who is leading a 26-state coalition in a lawsuit opposing the president’s health care bill, told LifeSiteNews he sees the two cases as intimately related. “I do think Congress has exceeded its authority under the Commerce Clause with the Obama health care law,” he said. “This issue regarding the mandate that insurance companies must carry coverage for abortifacients and birth control and sterilization is an offshoot of that ObamaCare case.”