Attorney General Scott Pruitt was among seven attorneys general to file a lawsuit Thursday against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, challenging the federal government’s requirement that religious employers offer health insurance coverage for sterilization services that conflict with their religious beliefs.
The complaint, filed today in U.S. District Court in Nebraska, challenges the constitutionality of the federal government’s impending mandate, claiming the requirement would be an unprecedented invasion of First Amendment rights to free speech, free exercise of religion and free association.
“Any regulation that requires a religious group to violate their lawful beliefs and practices goes directly against the ideals that our Founding Fathers set in place to protect Americans from an overbearing and intrusive government,” Pruitt said. “It conflicts with the most basic elements of freedom provided to all Americans to practice their lawful religion wherever, whenever and however they choose. For that reason, we have filed a lawsuit asking the Court to find the regulation unconstitutional.”
Earlier this month, the AGs sent a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner warning of a possible challenge in court if the mandate wasn’t withdrawn.
“The First Amendment has, for centuries, served as a rampart against government interference with religious liberty,” the lawsuit states. “The Federal Government’s regulation … would break through that rampart and leave countless additional religious freedoms vulnerable to government intrusion and negation through coercion.”
The lawsuit was joined by several Catholic organizations and individuals. For a copy of the 25-page lawsuit, go online to www.oag.ok.gov.